News / Middle East

Political Humor Triggers US-Egypt Row

Bassem Youssef, Egyptian TV satirist, waves to supporters in Cairo before talks with authorities about charges he insulted Islam and the nation's president, March 31, 2013.Bassem Youssef, Egyptian TV satirist, waves to supporters in Cairo before talks with authorities about charges he insulted Islam and the nation's president, March 31, 2013.
x
Bassem Youssef, Egyptian TV satirist, waves to supporters in Cairo before talks with authorities about charges he insulted Islam and the nation's president, March 31, 2013.
Bassem Youssef, Egyptian TV satirist, waves to supporters in Cairo before talks with authorities about charges he insulted Islam and the nation's president, March 31, 2013.
Mohamed Elshinnawi
An American TV humor show was at the center of a diplomatic dust-up between the United States and Egypt this week.

It all started when Egyptian authorities issued an arrest warrant for Bassem Youssef, a TV political satirist known as “Jon Stewart of Egypt” last week. Youssef then turned himself in for questioning on charges of “insulting Islam” and “belittling Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.”

So Youssef’s American role model, The Daily Show's Jon Stewart, came to his defense and lambasted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi over the arrest during his program Monday night.

Stewart talked about problems in Egypt following the Arab Spring uprisings that began two years ago – problems such as attacks on women, high unemployment, and crumbling infrastructure. Then the American comedian asked if Youssef had been sabotaging Egypt's infrastructure, or harassing Egyptian women on the streets, or causing Egypt’s unemployment.

After the program, someone at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo linked to the Stewart show on the embassy’s official Twitter feed.

Within hours, the Egyptian president’s office tweeted back to the Embassy, “It is inappropriate for a diplomatic mission to engage in such negative political propaganda.”

The questioning of Youssef, along with arrest warrants issued days earlier against five anti-government activists on charges of inciting unrest, raised concerns among the opposition in Egypt that Morsi had begun a campaign to intimidate them.

Morsi's supporters say there is no such campaign and the president’s office issued a statement late Tuesday denying that it was behind the arrest warrants. "The presidency underlines its complete respect for freedom of the expression and the press," the statement said.

Youssef is now free on $2,200 bail after being interrogated for five hours.
He tweeted on Monday: “A new complaint against me has been referred to state security prosecution, for spreading rumors and false news, and disturbing public tranquility after the last episode.”



The problems between the U.S. and Egypt began even before the Jon Stewart show Monday night. Earlier that day, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland described Youssef’s questioning as “evidence of a disturbing trend of growing restrictions on the freedom of expression” in Egypt.

"There does not seem to be an evenhanded application of justice here," Nuland said, adding that the Egyptian government had been slow to investigate other cases of suspected police brutality and attacks on anti-Morsi protesters and journalists.

Morsi’s conservative Islamic Freedom and Justice Party denounced Nuland’s comments as "blatant interference" in Egypt's internal affairs. Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood then joined in by saying in its Twitter account on Tuesday that the U.S. government “is welcoming and condoning defamation of religion.”

Nuland answered back saying her comments reflected the U.S. government's position.

"Our point was to say that rule of law needs to be applied appropriately in all circumstances. It's the same point that we make with regard to countries around the world. So, we reject the notion that we were interfering," she said.

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

3-day Lockdown to Fight Ebola Continues In Sierra Leone

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: ALI BABA from: NEW YORK
April 03, 2013 7:32 PM
SOON EGYPT WILL BE A POLICE STATE AND THE PROBLEM IN EGYPT WILL GET WORST . ALL JOURNALIST WILL LET THEIR MOUTH SHUT AND ALL OF THESE ACTION WILL NOT SOLVE EGYPT PROBLEM .CIVIL WAR IS A POSSIBLITY

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid