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Monday, April 1, 2013

Satirist Bassem Youssef arrested in Egypt

It's a sad state of affairs when a country won't tolerate humour and satire if it's directed at its government or religion but that's what's happening now in Egypt.  The Muslim Brotherhood and President Morsi were so insulted by satirist Bassem Youssef, they had him arrested, something they are likely to regret because he is one of Egypt's most famous and best loved television stars.  He was released on bail.

Two years ago, the Egyptian people threw out Hosni Mubarak and in hindsight, it was probably a bad decision, considering what they've got now because it's obvious that Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood can't take a joke.

One of the main reasons for the revolution was because the people said there wasn't enough freedom of expression but there have been four times as many lawsuits issued for insulting the president than during the entire 30 years of Mubarak's reign.  You could say they jumped out of the frying pan into the fire.

Youssef's weekly television show was fined $2100 pending investigation into the complaints so what are they?  He is accused of "making fun of the prayer ritual" and insulting Mr Morsi by "making fun of his international standing."

But he's not alone, several other members of the media have also been charged with insulting the president, awaiting punishment, and some bloggers have  been accused of "inciting unrest."  Complaints are filed to the public prosecutor who decides if there is enough evidence to go to trial.

Youseff jumped on Twitter where he has 1.2 million followers and said there were three law suits pending.  But he's cheeky and defiant and posed with supporters wearing a replica of a hat worn by President Morsi earlier this month when he accepted an honourary doctorate from a university in Pakistan.  Youseff had worn the hat on his show a week earlier.

Like most comedians, Bassem Youseff is very bright, he's a qualified heart surgeon who turned to satire.  Now the whole world knows his name and what's really going on in Egypt.

President Morsi and the Brotherhood are now skating on very thin ice.