BEIRUT

Middle East

Egypt prosecutor orders arrest of popular satirist

In this Saturday Dec. 8, 2012 file photo, Egyptian TV host Bassem Youssef addresses attendants at a gala dinner party in Cairo, Egypt. (AP Photo/Ahmed Omar, File)

CAIRO: Egypt's public prosecutor on Saturday ordered the arrest of popular satirist Bassem Youssef over alleged insults to Islam and to President Mohamed Mursi, state news agency MENA reported.

Judicial sources told AFP that several complaints had been filed against Youssef, whose razor-sharp humour -- delivered on his weekly television programme Albernameg (The Show) -- has spared few public figures.

He is accused of offense to Islam through "making fun of the prayer ritual" on his show, and of insulting President Mursi by "making fun of his international standing," the sources said.

In one of the suits filed against him, the plaintiff asked that legal measures be taken against Youssef so as not to encourage others to follow in his footsteps, a source said.

Dubbed the Egyptian Jon Stewart, Youssef has repeatedly poked fun at the ruling Islamists and Mursi in particular.

The soaring number of legal complaints against journalists has cast doubt on Mursi's commitments to freedom of expression -- a key demand of the popular uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

 

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