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

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches 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.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid