NDP conference and new moon sighting top news of the week

Maram Mazen
5 Min Read

Ramadan TV programming and escalating food prices receive attention

CAIRO: The fourth annual conference of the National Democratic Party was assessed this week by national and independent newspapers. On its front page, Al Ahram national newspaper printed quotes and promises by President Hosni Mubarak made in his closing speech.

The president asserted that under his control the government has been involved in widening the network of social security and aiding poor families. The paper also quoted the president as saying, Egypt has witnessed the longest time in its history without war or invasion, which, according to the paper, was followed by cheering and clapping. He was also quoted as saying, We have the right to benefit from the peaceful use of nuclear power.

Meanwhile, opposition newspapers criticized the conference. Abdallah El-Senawy, the editor of El-Araby opposition newspaper, which represents the Democratic Arabic Nasserist Party, asked, Gamal Mubarak runs Egypt now. And the hard question is: What s going to happen tomorrow?

National and independent newspapers were also busy this week covering the month of Ramadan, with its preparations, celebrations, food prices and controversial start.

Not recognizing the Egyptian mufti’s authority, the independent Al-Masry Al-Youm said that the Islamic groups in Egypt had decided to fast on Saturday, instead of Sunday, which had been declared by the mufti as the first day in the month of Ramadan.

The Islamic groups began Ramadan in conjunction with most Gulf countries, the Palestinian territories and Libya. The groups were quoted in Al-Masry Al-Youm as saying, If the crescent appears in one Islamic country, the rest of the Islamic countries that share the same night or a part of it, are obligated to start fasting on the same day.

Every year Muslims in different countries wait in anticipation for their mufti to announce the sighting of the new moon that determines the start of Ramadan. Usually, different Islamic countries declare different days as the beginning of the month of Ramadan.

Al-Masry Al-Youm said that politics have played a major role in this year s crescent sighting. Nine countries had agreed to start fasting on Saturday, including the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Palestine, Sudan and Yemen, following the lead of Saudi Arabia, while four other countries, including Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Algeria, had declared Sunday as the first day of Ramadan.

Dr. Muslim Shaltout, astronomy and solar studies professor told the independent Al-Masry Al-Youm that all countries that fasted Saturday and counted it as the first day of the month of Ramadan had relied on a crescent sighting that was inaccurate. Shaltout added that Egypt s calculations were not incorrect. The determination of the first of Ramadan in Egypt, he said, did not follow Saudi Arabia s ignorant principle, which he said doesn’t recognize astronomical calculations and depends on unspecialized people to verify the sighting.

Food prices, according to Al-Wafd newspaper, skyrocketed hours before the beginning of the month of Ramadan. The paper said that the increase in prices varied from 25 percent to 50 percent. The price of meat reached LE 60 per kilogram in high-class areas and LE 38 per kilogram in popular areas.

Ramadan television shows also received their share of coverage. Producers, actors and television stations are notorious for their fierce competition to put on the best shows during Ramadan. One actress couldn t take the pressure and attempted suicide. Eman Ayoub, an actress on Nasrallah, one of the television shows that was supposed to be shown in Ramadan but was cancelled, and told Al-Masry Al-Youm that she had attempted to commit suicide due to the cancellation of her program in Ramadan.

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