Watani is an Egyptian weekly Sunday newspaper published in Cairo, Egypt, and sold worldwide and is also available at website, www.wataninet.com. Watani provides complete coverage on national news and civil life, but distinguishes itself with a special focus on Coptic religious experience, culture, heritage, contributions to Egyptian society and world civilization, as well as contemporary social and political issues of special relevance to the Copts. Weekly columns include religious articles by His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, bishops, priests, and laity. Watani‘s mission includes providing a forum for democracy, citizenship rights, and women’s and minority issues.
The word Watani is Arabic for “My Homeland.” The paper was founded in 1958 by the prominent Copt Antoun Sidhom (1915-1995).
His weekly editorials in Watani from 1958-1995 were the strongest voice in defense of Coptic human rights in Egypt. Antoun Sidhom was a member of the Egyptian People’s Assembly (Parliament) from 1984-1989 and a member of the Coptic Orthodox Church General Community Council from 1976-1995.
After Antoun Sidhom’s death, his son Youssef Sidhom became editor-in-chief of Watani and took it to new heights. In 2001, Watani International was born with intensive efforts by Magdi Khalil, who became its executive, and Saad Michael Saad, who became senior editor for religion and culture. Watani became the only newspaper in the Arab world that contains sections in Arabic, English, and French.
In 2000, Watani created a successful Youth Parliament experiment in which Muslim and Coptic youth emulate parliamentary life on a weekly basis. Graduates from this program, which continues today, become excellent participants in real-life politics.
Watani continues to be a national, not religious newspaper; however, with the increasing marginalization of Copts and their culture within the Egyptian society over the last decades, Watani has become increasingly significant in expressing and supporting Coptic existence and self-consciousness.