Egypt's top satirist undeterred after questioning

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 5, 2013 at 5:17 pm •  Published: April 5, 2013
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CAIRO (AP) — Undeterred at being interrogated by prosecutors, a popular Egyptian TV satirist was back on the air Friday poking new fun at the international publicity he received after lampooning the Egyptian president.

Bassem Youssef — known as Egypt's Jon Stewart — was interrogated this week for allegedly insulting Islam and the country's leader, questioning that drew criticism from Washington and rights advocates.

In his weekly Friday TV show, Youssef says he "overdid it." He said all the segments on his show called "ElBernameg," or "The Program," wouldn't focus on the country's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

"Not everything has to be about the president. This isn't fear. I am not pulling back," he said.

Youssef then said sarcastically that after his visit to the attorney general, he had decided not to talk on the show about Morsi — just the attorney general. The television audience, which included one of Egypt's most prominent opposition figures, Hamdeen Sabahi, erupted in applause and laughter.

Then Youssef spent a good part of his show ridiculing both the attorney general and the president.

Responding to a member of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood party who said in a news clip that Youssef only focuses on the Islamist group and the president, he joked: "They are not two things. They are one."

It was a way of mocking the president's insistence that his policy decisions are made independent of the Brotherhood from which he hails.

On Friday, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom expressed concern about the Egyptian government's application of what it called "blasphemy-like charges," saying they were being used to stifle dissent and limit the freedoms of religion and expression.

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