Less than six months on, however, and the opinion columns look somewhat different. Writers for Egypt's leading independent publications have started to show signs of frustration at the limited impact of Mr ElBaradei's campaign, and criticisms of his approach are increasingly frequent. Mohamed Esmat, writing in independent daily al-Shorouk, suggests that the Nobel prize winner might even be harming Egypt's chances for reform:
Mr ElBaradei fails to recognise that his current requests for reform were made by dozens of political parties, whether publicly or secretly, decades ago. Mr ElBaradei also fails to acknowledge that Egyptians were hoping that he would run for presidency through an opposition party. The National Democratic Party's obstinate rules will not change before the next presidential elections. Finally, Mr ElBaradei does not realise that by stealing the spotlight from other potential candidates, change in Egypt has become less likely.
Similarly, in al-Masri al-Youm, a popular independent daily, Mohsen Abdel Rahman chastised the would-be reformer for spending too much time criticising the current system and not enough developing his own initiatives:
I have often heard Mr ElBaradei, in both his own statements and interviews with Hassan Nafaa [a leading reform campaigner], complain about a lack of support and that he has nowhere to make his headquarters to officially launch his campaign or the activities of his National Association for Change. A man’s capital is his brain, followed by his thought process. I don’t believe that Messrs ElBaradei and Nafaa are lacking in thought or creativity, but constant moaning always hinders productive thinking and creativity.
Mr ElBaradei faces criticism elsewhere too. In Kuwait, which deported 17 of Mr ElBaradei's supporters in April, al-Watan newspaper published a stinging denunciation of a leader who, writer Fouad al-Hasim considers, is a symbol of Western interference in the region:
To be quite honest, I’m growing tired of Mohamed ElBaradei’s statements and pictures in the media. I now only see Karzai—Afghanistan’s ruler—without the hat and with an Egyptian accent! Mr ElBaradei—who is known to be a man of the West and specifically of the US—has come to Egypt from Austria carrying “perfume and disinfectants” so he can “sanitize” Egypt’s roads from Alexandria to Aswan.
Back in Egypt, Mokhtar Noah in al-Dustur, an independent daily known for its sharp criticism of Hosni Mubarak's regime, describes sarcastically a utopian dream he had after watching news clips of Mr ElBaradei and his supporters. The implication is clear: only in people's dreams will Mr ElBaradei ever become president of Egypt:
In spite of a lack of support, Mr ElBaradei is doing just fine. He has become the great white hope of the Egyptian public and is more popular than anyone had ever expected. I am following his movements closely on all the satellite channels (the international ones of course). While I was watching a clip of Mr ElBaradei and the public rallying around him, I fell asleep. I fell into a deep slumber. In my dreams, I saw that God had blessed us! Mr ElBaradei became the president of the Arab Republic of Egypt.
Farouk Goweida, an Egyptian poet, also talks of dreams in al-Shorouk, reflecting on a democratic ideal made impossible by the current regime. Perhaps more encouragingly for Mr ElBaradei, Mr Goweida closes on a note of determination:
Egyptians will always cling to an old dream: one day to have free elections, committees without fraud, a parliament that reflects the popular will, and political choices made by the people. This dream will never be achieved while National Democratic Party retains its grip on politics and while it maintains a majority in parliament and the Shura Council by law or by fraud...But still, we won't give up our dreams of a future in which we see free and fair elections.
For further commentary from the Arab press, go to Meedan.net.