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Thursday January 03, 2013

Egyptian Comedian Bassem Youssef Investigated for Insulting Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi

Posted by Jeffrey Wright at 2:41 pm

Bassem YoussefEgyptian comedian and television satirist Bassem Youssef is being investigated by prosecutors for insulting President Mohammed Morsi. Youssef is often called the Egyptian Jon Stewart because of his style of political satire, and his show, “el Barnameg,” or “The Program,” bears a considerable resemblance to Stewart’s American “Daily Show”. The episode in question featured Youssef holding a pink pillow bearing Morsi’s face as he satirized the President’s paternalistic approach to his political opponents. Though Youssef’s show originally aired only on YouTube, he was picked by an independent satellite network after Egypt’s January, 2011 revolution. 

Youssef’s case is the latest in a troubling series of attacks on freedom of speech under the Morsi government. Just a few days before the investigation into Youssef was launched, el-Masry el-Youm, a prominent independent Egyptian newspaper that has often been critical of Morsy and his administration, learned that it would face a similar investigation. Egyptians’ right to free speech, including criticism of the government, was one of the primary goals of the Egyptian revolution, and it is profoundly disturbing to see this principle violated by the post-revolutionary government. 

Bassem Youssef was a presenter at last spring’s Gibran Gala. You can see a video of his appearance here:

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