For those who have followed Mohamed Morsi’s brief career as president of Egypt and have been unimpressed, prepare not to have your views altered. Reuters reports that on Saturday, Bassem Youssef — Egypt’s answer to Jon Stewart (what was the question?) — was arrested and interrogated for mocking Morsi on his satirical TV program.
Youssef, whose shenanigans have included wearing an outsize “graduation hat” similar to the one Morsi wore when he was presented with an honorary degree in March, turned himself in to authorities after an arrest warrant was sworn out. The warrant accused the TV satirist of undermining Morsi’s standing and cited at four other legal complaints filed by Morsi supporters. The comedian was questioned and released earlier today on bail of 15,000 Egyptian pounds ($2,200).
Youssef rose to prominence after Hosni Mubarak was swept from power in 2011. His program, broadcast on Egyptian TV, has compared with “The Daily Show.”
The arrest has increased fears of a crackdown on dissent in post-Mubarak Egypt. Heba Morayef, Egypt director at Human Rights Watch, said, “It is an escalation in an attempt to restrict space for critical expression.” Her view was echoed by Mohamed ElBaradei, a man instrumental in fomenting the green revolution, who said the actions against Youssef were typical of those carried in “fascist regimes,” adding, “It is the continuation of the failed and ugly moves to thwart the revolution.”
Youssef’s arrest is not the first by Prosecutor General Talaat Ibrahim, whose office has summoned other well-known media figures for questioning over accusations of insulting the president. Opposition figures say Ibrahim is biased toward Morsi, who appointed him last November. A court ruled last week that the appointment was illegal and that Ibrahim must step down.
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