Region | Egypt

Egypt: Arrest order for top satirist Bassem Yousuf decried

Opposition leader Al Baradei slams allegations against Yousuf as typical of fascism

  • By Ramadan Al Sherbini, Correspondent
  • Published: 18:00 March 31, 2013
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: EPA
  • Popular TV satirist Bassam Yousuf is surrounded by media and activists as he arrives at the High Court in Cairo yesterday. Yousuf appeared before prosecutors for an investigation of alleged defamation of Islam and Mursi.
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Cairo: Egyptian satirist Bassem Yousuf was released on bail on Sunday after nearly five hours of questioning over alleged insults to President Mohammad Mursi.

Egypt’s mainly secular opposition has slammed an arrest warrant for the country’s most popular TV satirist, saying it is part of a crackdown on Mursi's opponents.

Yousuf, who hosts the popular satirical show Al Bernameg (The Programme) appeared earlier on Sunday for investigations to face alleged accusations of insulting Islam and defaming Mursi on his weekly show. He was surrounded by dozens of supportive fans and opposition backers.

Yousuf, known as Egypt’s John Stewart, denied on Saturday night the accusations in an interview with CBC, a private TV station that broadcasts his show.

“Those manipulating Islam in their political propaganda are the ones who distort Islam with their mistaken talk on religious channels,” Yousuf said, referring to Mursi’s Islamist allies. “As a Muslim, I don’t accept this.”

Using his characteristic genre of satire, Yousuf thanked Mursi for his controversial statements, which he said prompted the producer of the show to dismiss half the crew. “We no longer need them because the president has provided us with a lot of material through his videotapes.”

‘Desperate practices’

Prosecutors said the probe with Yousuf was in response to legal complaints filed against him by several people. Sobhi Saleh, a Muslim Brotherhood lawyer who volunteered to join Yousuf’s defence team, denied that the complainants are Islamists. Yousuf spurned Saleh’s voluntary gesture.

Yousuf often pokes fun at Mursi who belongs to the powerful Muslim Brotherhood.

His razor-sharp humour has infuriated Islamists who accuse Yousuf of showing disrespect to Islam and the democratically elected president. The radical Muslim cleric Abu Islam recently called Yousuf a “pretty boy” and advised him to wear the full-face veil or burqa, saying he is a “seduction for men”.

The arrest order for Yousuf came days after several opposition activists were arrested in what the opposition said was a clampdown to silence opponents of the ruling Islamists.

“The arrest warrants against Bassem Yousuf and his media colleagues on charges only known under fascist regimes are a continuation of ugly and desperate practices to abort the revolution,” wrote the opposition leader Mohammad Al Baradei on Twitter.

The alleged clampdown on opponents comes amid a deepening crisis between the opposition and Mursi whose critics accuse of failing to fulfil the objectives of the 2011 revolt that deposed Hosni Mubarak and brought the Islamist leader to power.

Comments (2)

  1. Added 13:11 April 16, 2013

    You can insult degrade and abuse other people's rights their religion and beliefs and in this case other friendly countries. all in the name of freedom of speech. This is how media show cases complete morons as heroes. People like Bassem Yousaf should be either in mental hospital or jail.

    Samia, Lahore, Pakistan

  2. Added 11:02 April 1, 2013

    These days people insult Islam and Muslims and gain fame and money. What a shame! Imagine people like Bassam Yousuf insulting their own religion and their own country and their very own President who came to power after their very own Arab Spring. They elected Mussri as President and now they insult him. Looks like these people do not want a government to exist at all, they all want to be rulers of Egypt. What a shame!

    KHAN, dubai, United Arab Emirates

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