Egypt acts to silence its top satirist

Morsi's free speech clampdown

An Egyptian comedian faces arrest for allegedly insulting Islam and President Mohammed Morsi.

A warrant has been issued for Bassem Youssef, a well-known TV satirist dubbed Egypt’s answer to Jon Stewart.

Former surgeon Youssef is also accused of ‘spreading false news with the aim of disrupting public order’ through his show El Bernameg (The Programme).

He arrived in Egypt's High Court this morning to the warrant; and in In evident mockery, appeared outside the court wearing an outsized version of the hat worn by President Morsi when he received an honorary doctorate from a university in Pakistan earlier this month.

The legal action was sparked by an Islamist lawyer who was upset about Youssef’s portrayal of the president as a power-hungry pharoah. The comedian also put Morsi’s image on a pillow and parodied his speeches.

Mr Youssef tweeted yesterday: ‘I will go to the public prosecutor's office on Sunday - unless they send me a police car and save me [the bother of] getting there on public transport.’

Morsi has threatened a clampdown on the media, saying: ‘False news is a crime. If I have to take the necessary [measures] to preserve the security of this homeland, I will do so. And, I am sorry to say, I am about to do so.’

Published: 31 Mar 2013

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