“Egypt’s Jon Stewart,” television host Bassem Youssef, was arrested and interrogated for five hours on Sunday before he was released on bail.
Youssef is accused of disrespecting Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi on his political satire TV program. “Prosecutors had issued an arrest warrant for Mr. Youssef on Saturday on charges stemming from statements he had made on his widely watched television show, including that he had insulted Mr. Morsi, denigrated Islam and disturbed public peace.”
Youssef, a heart surgeon by training, rose to media prominence by parodying public figures during the uprising against former president Mubarak including Mubarak himself. The arrest of Youssef is seen as an a crackdown on free speech and freedom of the press in the post-Mubarak era: “Last week, following a series of clashes between anti-government protesters and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s general prosecutor issued arrest warrants for five prominent opponents of Mr Morsi’s.”
After being released on the equivalent of about $2,000 bail, Youssef said that “If we made a whole revolution and we didn’t change a law like this, then this is quite ridiculous. President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood have not made any serious steps to actually improve liberties in the country.” Youssef responded to the interrogation in a good-natured way (including tweeting about it) and added that he was not intimidated by the questioning and has no plans to tone-down the irreverent content of his show.
Touched by people’s support and media attention,however, there are many more activists being prosecuted that deserve to get that support
— Dr Bassem Youssef (@DrBassemYoussef) March 31, 2013
Do you think that when it comes to freedom of expression and dissenting opinions, has the Arab spring become an Arab winter?
Watch Bassem Youssef — who describes himself as a moderate Muslim — discuss his arrest and interrogation on CNN: