'Jon Stewart of Egypt' Quizzed Over Dissent From Mohammed Morsi Islamist Regime

Bassem Youssef Accused of 'Undermining' Faith and President

**Marked Man **: Egyptian TV satirist Bassem Youssef arrives at a Cairo prosecutor’s office surrounded by supporters.
getty images
**Marked Man **: Egyptian TV satirist Bassem Youssef arrives at a Cairo prosecutor’s office surrounded by supporters.

By Reuters

Published March 31, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Egyptian prosecutors questioned Egypt’s most prominent television satirist on Sunday over allegations he insulted the president and Islam, a case that has increased opposition fears of a crackdown on dissent.

Bassem Youssef rose to fame after the uprising that swept Hosni Mubarak from power in 2011, with a satirical online show. His programme, that has been compared to the Daily Show of U.S. satirist Jon Stewart, is now broadcast on Egyptian TV.

The comedian is accused, among other things, of undermining the standing of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi. The prosecutor general issued an arrest warrant for him on Saturday after at least four legal complaints filed by Mursi supporters.

An official in the prosecutor general’s office confirmed that questioning had begun. Youssef voluntarily showed up at the prosecutor general’s office on Sunday, so as to avoid arrest.

He was wearing an oversized version of a graduation hat modelled on one donned by the president when he was awarded an honorary degree in Pakistan earlier in March.

Youssef has worn the hat on his widely-watched show, one of many satirical jabs at the president. Last year, he poked fun of Mursi’s repeated use of the word “love” by singing a love song to a red pillow with the president’s face printed on it.

The questioning of the comedian has raised fears over freedom expression in the post-Mubarak Egypt.

“It is an escalation in an attempt to restrict space for critical expression,” said Heba Morayef, Egypt director at Human Rights Watch.

Prominent liberal politician Mohamed ElBaradei said it was the kind actions only seen in “fascist regimes”. “It is the continuation of the failed and ugly moves to thwart the revolution,” he said.

Youssef’s questioning came after the prosecutor general issued five arrest warrants for prominent political activists accused of inciting violence against the Muslim Brotherhood, the group that propelled Mursi to power in last year’s election.

The prosecutor’s office has also summoned several other prominent media figures for questioning over accusations they insulted the president.

Opposition figures say the prosecutor, Talaat Ibrahim, is biased towards Mursi, who appointed him last November, and they want him removed from office.

A court ruled last week that Ibrahim’s appointment was illegal and that he must step down. Ibrahim, who denies any bias, plans to appeal the ruling.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.