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

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Taken to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine May Be in Use by Jan.

WHO assistant director Dr. Marie Paule Kieny says clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, US and Africa 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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid