Egypt Satirical Show Host Faces Arrest Warrant For Insulting Islam, President

on March 31 2013 6:41 AM

Update 9:40 a.m. EDT: Bassem Yousef turned himself in and was questioned Sunday, Reuters reports.  

Youssef voluntarily showed up at the prosecutor general's office to avoid arrest.

He was wearing an oversized version of a graduation hat resembling one worn by President Mohamed Morsi when he was awarded an honorary degree in Pakistan earlier in March.

Liberal politician Mohamed ElBaradei said the action was the sort seen only in "fascist regimes." "It is the continuation of the failed and ugly moves to thwart the revolution," he said.

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A popular Egyptian satirical show host was issued an arrest warrant Saturday on charges of insulting Islam and President Mohamed Morsi.

Egypt's state prosecutor ordered the arrest of satirist Bassem Youssef on a formal complaint accusing him of insulting the president, denigrating Islam and spreading false news with the aim of disrupting public order, on his television show, "El Barnameg" ("The Program"), Egypt’s Al Ahram newspaper reported.

Youssef, whose show is likened to Jon Stewart’s "The Daily Show," shot to fame with his amateur videos posted on the Internet following the uprising that ousted former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak.

On his satirical show broadcast thrice a week on one of Egypt's independent satellite stations, Youssef pokes fun at public personalities ranging from fellow television presenters to well-known Muslim scholars, according to a BBC report.

He mocked the president by portraying him as a pharaoh, calling him "Super Morsi" following a Nov. 22 decree that gave him near-absolute power and plunged the nation into unrest. Separately, Youssef mocked Morsi’s repeated use of the word "love" in his speeches by starting one of his programs with a love song, holding a red pillow with the president's face printed on it, which angered an Islamist lawyer, who lodged a complaint resulting in an investigation and the subsequent arrest.

The lawyer, Ramadan Abdel Hamid Al-Aqsari, has a pattern of suing a range of media personalities and politicians, the AFP news agency reported.

Youssef confirmed the arrest warrant in a statement published on his Twitter account, adding: "I will go to the public prosecutor's office on Sunday—unless they send me a police car and save me [the bother of] getting there on public transport.”

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