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Arrest warrant for Egypt's 'Jon Stewart' who criticized president

Amr Nabil / AP

A bodyguard protects popular Egyptian television satirist Bassem Youssef, who has come to be known as Egypt's Jon Stewart.

Bassem Youssef, a Egyptian satirist, has turned himself in after the country’s prosecutor-general issued an arrest warrant over allegations he insulted the president and Islam.

Youssef, known as Egypt’s version of “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart, was released after questioning on a bail of $2,200, an official in the prosecutor's office told Reuters on Sunday.

The comedian is accused, among other things, of undermining the standing of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi, Reuters said.

The questioning of the comedian has raised fears over freedom expression in the post-Mubarak Egypt.

The prosecutor general issued the arrest warrant after at least four legal complaints filed by Mursi supporters, the BBC reported.

"It is an escalation in an attempt to restrict space for critical expression," said Heba Morayef, Egypt director at Human Rights Watch told Reuters.

Youssef's questioning came after the prosecutor general issued five arrest warrants for prominent political activists accused of inciting violence against the Muslim Brotherhood, the group that propelled Mursi to power in last year's election.

“The dilemma of Egypt’s new rulers is that they came to power as a result of a radical change in the country, but they refuse to accept other results of this change,” wrote Abdullah Kamal, an Egyptian analyst, on the website of news channel Al-Arabiya.

During a telephone interview with popular television anchor Lamees El-Hadidy on Saturday night, Youssef rejected the accusation that he had insulted Islam, the U.K.’s Daily Telegraph reported.

"If there is anyone who has insulted religion it is those who use Islam as a weapon for political reasons," he said.

Reuters contributed to this report.


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