Egypt Arrests Popular Satirist For Blasphemy

mq1Satirist Bassem Youssef has sometimes been called Egypt’s Jon Stewart — a refreshing uninhibited commentators in the increasingly restricted Egyptian public discourse. That ended last week as Egypt’s Islamic government added him to the spate of blasphemy arrests in defense of Islam.

Youssef is charged with satire that insulted President Mohamed Morsi and Islam. He posted bond on Sunday after being interrogated for hours.

Youssef is a heart surgeon who volunteered in a Tahrir Square field hospital during the uprising against President Hosni Mubarak. He has guts as well as a sense of humor. While waiting to be interrogated, he continued to post sarcastic tweets in defiance of his captors. Here is a clip with Jon Stewart.

Egypt’s continued crackdown of anti-religious speech is part of its long-standing blasphemy abuses. For many years, I have been writing about the threat of an international blasphemy standard and the continuing rollback on free speech in the West. For recent columns, click here and here and here.

Much of this writing has focused on the effort of the Obama Administration to reach an accommodation with allies like Egypt to develop a standard for criminalizing anti-religious speech.  We have been following the rise of anti-blasphemy laws around the world, including the increase in prosecutions in the West and the support of the Obama Administration for the prosecution of some anti-religious speech under the controversial Brandenburg standard.

The crackdowns in Saudi Arabia and Egypt show again how unwise this effort by the Obama Administration was from the start. The Administration has given credibility to these efforts to curb anti-religious speech. Whatever desire it had to “moderate” such actions by cooperating on an international standard has proven, as many of us predicted, an utter failure. There can be no compromise between free speech and blasphemy. These nations stand against the most basic right of all men and women to speak freely and worship (or not worship) as their values dictate.

Source: France24 and NY Times

12 thoughts on “Egypt Arrests Popular Satirist For Blasphemy

  1. Get our of Egypt now! One more example of the dangers involved when religion is mixed with politics and government.

  2. “Get our of Egypt now!”

    Although I took you to mean that in the sense of our involvement as a nation there, it’s not bad advice for Mr. Youssef either, raff. This story reeks of political persecution on behalf of Morsi.

  3. This is the problem when democracy is joined with a far religious rightwing in a nation. Imagine democracy in 1400 Europe? People would vote for anyone who would persecute and put to death supposed witches, Jews and other heretics. Islam needs Enlightenment thinkers like Europe experienced hundreds of years ago.

  4. Egyptian Court Drops Suit Against Bassem Youssef, AKA ‘Egypt’s Jon Stewart’

    CAIRO (AP) — A Cairo court turned down on Saturday a lawsuit filed by an Islamist lawyer demanding that a popular Egyptian satirist’s TV show be banned for allegedly insulting the president and containing excessive sexual innuendo.

    Judge Hassouna Tawfiq said that the lawsuit against Bassem Youssef’s “ElBernameg,” or “The Program,” was dropped because the plaintiff did not have an interest in the case. Youssef still faces other investigations related to the show but the ruling may set a precedent.

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