'Egypt's Jon Stewart' Charged in Cairo
Bassem Youssef one of 5 activists accused of instigating violence
By Neal Colgrass, Newser Staff
Posted Mar 31, 2013 2:15 PM CDT
A bodyguard secures popular Egyptian television satirist Bassem Youssef in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, March 31, 2013.   (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

(Newser) – Egyptian authorities today questioned a TV comic known as the nation's Jon Stewart and released him on $2,200 bail, Al Jazeera reports. Charged with insulting Islam and President Morsi, Bassem Youssef turned himself in amid waves of political unrest that have deeply divided Egypt. Youssef, the most popular Morsi critic, arrived wearing an oversized graduation hat similar to one worn by the president when he received an honorary degree in Pakistan. The AP reports that Youssef poked fun at the prosecutor's office afterwards: "They asked me the color of my eyes. Really," he tweeted.

Youssef is one of five activists accused of sparking violence in Egypt, but authorities deny they are curbing freedom of expression or targeting those who insult Islam. "Just like we moved against someone who insults Christianity, we moved against someone who is accused of insulting Islam," said an official. Critics, however, see intimidation and repression: "It is an escalation in an attempt to restrict space for critical expression," said Egypt's director at Human Rights Watch. Among Youssef's many jabs at Morsi: mocking his use of the word "love" by crooning a love song to a pillow with Morsi's face on it.

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Apr 1, 2013 1:53 AM CDT
Bassem Yousef is legitimately hilarious. Cracking jokes about a political figure isn't the same as demeaning people's religions or inciting hatred. Shame on Egyptian authorities.
Mar 31, 2013 4:19 PM CDT
Does anyone see the similarity between Islamic governments making laws against "insulting Islam" and the ancient European history where the kings/emperors/et al were considered defenders of the faith (which ever faith the king had at the time) answerable to (in Catholic countries) the Pope? The coming question will be who is the head of Islam on Earth -- the resurection (pun intended) of the Caliphate! As for "insulting Christianity" -- its illegal to bring your personal Bible into Saudi Arabia! So much for insults!
Mar 31, 2013 4:18 PM CDT
"Just like we moved against someone who insults Christianity" I would love to see them prove one incident where they moved to punish someone in an Islamic Country of insulting Christianity