Satirist arrested for insulting Egypt’s president


April 01, 2013 12:36:30

Egyptian police have released one of the nation’s best known TV presenters on bail after questioning him over charges he insulted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi.

Egypt’s chief prosecutor says he issued a warrant for the arrest of Bassem Youssef after at least four people complained about his political satire.

Mr Youssef promptly lampooned the move on Twitter.

When he arrived for questioning he donned an oversized hat, parodying a head dress Mr Morsi wore on a recent state visit.

Mr Youssef has been accused of insulting Mr Morsi and Islam as well as spreading false news with the aim of disrupting public order.

His 30 million fans love his irreverent style, delivered with witty one liners and corny screen graphics, targeting the political elite.

He swings between high-brown satire and low-brow physical spoof.

Throughout his career he has tried to distinguish between his Islamic faith and his Islamist targets, but his jokes have rubbed plenty the wrong way.

His case is feeding into concern about the way Egypt’s new rulers are dealing with their detractors, and the way their opponents are taking their case to the streets.

After riots targeted Muslim Brotherhood offices a week ago, prosecutors issued warrants to arrest five prominent pro-democracy activists.

Mr Morsi warned he was close to taking emergency action to protect the nation, accusing the opposition using the media to incite violence.

A senior aide pointed to the need to distinguish “freedom of expression and thuggery”.

But opposition activists say the Islamist-dominated government is clamping down on free speech.

Mr Youssef was freed after five hours of questioning on $2,200 bail.

His next show will no doubt be keenly watched.


First posted

April 01, 2013 08:32:58

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