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Egypt court turns down Islamist lawsuit against TV satirist

April 07, 2013

Bassem Youssef: Inspired by US satirist Jon Stewart. — Reuters file picBassem Youssef: Inspired by US satirist Jon Stewart. — Reuters file picCAIRO, April 7 — An Egyptian court yesterday threw out a lawsuit calling for a popular television satirist to be banned for insulting the president and Islam, but he still faces a criminal investigation on similar charges.

Critics of the government see the cases against Bassem Youssef, who has cited US satirist Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” as a model, as part of a crackdown on dissent. This is denied by the government of President Mohamed Mursi and its Islamist allies, the Muslim Brotherhood.

A Cairo administrative court rejected a petition brought by Mahmoud Abu el-Aineen, an Islamist lawyer, to ban Youssef’s programme and shut down independent television channel CBC, legal sources said.

Youssef, who rose to fame with a satirical online show after the uprising that swept the previous president, Hosni Mubarak, from power in 2011, had been released on bail on Sunday after the prosecutor-general issued a warrant for his arrest.

The prosecutor also accused Youssef of insulting Islam and undermining Mursi’s standing.

The case brought by el-Aineen, who works for the Muslim Brotherhood but filed the complaint on his own, is not related to the prosecutor’s.

On Tuesday, Egypt’s investment authority threatened to cancel CBC’s licence because Youssef’s show violated rules governing the media in Cairo where the channel was located, state media said.

It said the show contained vulgarity, insults, sexual innuendo and bad language.

Last week, the United States, which gives US$1.3 billion (RM4 billion) in military aid per year to the North African country, accused Egypt of muzzling freedom of speech.

Egypt has been in political turmoil since the ouster of Mubarak, a long-time US ally. — Reuters

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