Through the Wire

Egypt Satirist Turns Himself in Over Allegations of Islam Insult

March 31, 2013
| Security
| Middle East and North Africa

March 31 (Bloomberg) -- Egyptian television satirist Bassem Youssef turned himself in to authorities for questioning over allegations he insulted Islam and President Mohamed Mursi.

Hundreds of activists assembled outside Egypt’s High Court in support of Youssef and to protest what they see as the regime’s targeting of media personalities.

The prosecutor’s office said it issued an arrest warrant yesterday after lawsuits accused Youssef of ridiculing and insulting Mursi and Islam in his “Al Bernameg” satellite- channel show. Secularists have accused Mursi’s Islamist government of an assault on freedom of expression and the press.

“We are not the ones who insult religion,” Youssef said in a phone interview with TV anchor Lamees El-Hadidy last night on the CBC channel. “If there is anyone who has insulted religion, it is those who use Islam as a weapon for political reasons.”

Youssef, a medical doctor, rose to fame after the 2011 uprising that pushed Hosni Mubarak from power with a satirical video posted on YouTube. Known for mocking Islamists, Youssef’s program is similar in style to U.S. comedian Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show,” on which he has appeared.

“Pathetic efforts to smother dissent and intimidate media” are “a sign of a shaky regime and a bunker mentality,” Egyptian opposition leader and Nobel Laureate Mohamed ElBaradei wrote on Twitter.

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