Satirist questioned for insulting Mursi

Updated 02 April 2013
0

Satirist questioned for insulting Mursi

CAIRO: Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef was released on bail yesterday after nearly five hours of questioning over alleged insults to the president and religion, highlighting concerns over freedom of expression in post-revolt Egypt.
Youssef, whose weekly program Albernameg (The Show) has pushed the boundaries of local television with its merciless critique of those in power, was ordered to pay 15,000 Egyptian pounds (around $ 2,200) pending investigation into the complaints, judicial sources told AFP.
On Twitter, Youssef confirmed the bail conditions, saying they were for three lawsuits. He said no date has yet been set for questioning into a fourth legal complaint.
Yesterday morning, Youssef continued to challenge the authorities even as he arrived at the prosecutor’s office. He made his way through a throng of cameras and supporters, to pose with an enormous version of a hat worn by President Muhammad earlier this month when he received an honorary doctorate from a university in Pakistan.
Youssef had worn the hat on his show a week earlier. The heart surgeon turned comedian took to Twitter during his questioning, at one point saying: “The officers and the prosecution lawyers want to have their photo taken with me. Maybe that’s the reason for my summons?”
The public prosecutor on Saturday issued an arrest warrant for Youssef, who has more than 1.2 million Twitter followers, following several legal complaints against him relating to the material used on the show. He is accused of offending Islam through “making fun of the prayer ritual” and of insulting Mursi by “making fun of his international standing.” Dubbed the Egyptian answer to American television’s Jon Stewart, Youssef has repeatedly poked fun at those in power and became a household name in the Arab world’s most populous country.
He now joins the ranks of several colleagues in the media who face charges of insulting the president.
Bassem Youssef rose to fame after the uprising that swept Hosni Mubarak from power in 2011, with a satirical online show. His program, that has been compared to the Daily Show of US satirist Jon Stewart, is now broadcast on Egyptian TV.
The questioning of the comedian has raised fears over freedom expression in the post-Mubarak Egypt.
“It is an escalation in an attempt to restrict space for critical expression,” said Heba Morayef, Egypt director at Human Rights Watch.


Lebanese election campaign fever turns into clash between Druze parties

Updated 21 min 38 sec ago
0

Lebanese election campaign fever turns into clash between Druze parties

  • Lebanon's independent Sabaa party talks about exploitation of positions and money.
  • Several young men from the Sabaa party demonstrated on Tuesday outside the Ministry of Interior.

BEIRUT: Sectarian and partisan polarization resulting from fierce competition for parliamentary seats in Lebanon has led to the first armed clash between two rival Druze parties.
Machine guns were used in the clash between the Progressive Socialist Party, led by MP Walid Jumblatt, and the Lebanese Democratic Party, led by Talal Arslan, which took place on Sunday evening in the city of Choueifat, about 5 km south of Beirut.
The two parties’ leaders acted quickly to calm their supporters.
“When politicians plant seeds of hatred and grudges among people, they commit a crime against citizens who have been breaking bread together for centuries,” Jumblatt said in a tweet.
In a joint statement, the two parties stressed “the need to avoid any steps that could provoke anger among supporters or disturb citizens who look forward to freely exercising their right to vote in an atmosphere of democratic competition.”
The two parties, alongside other parties with supporters in Choueifat, such as Hezbollah, the Lebanese Forces, the Syrian Social Nationalist Party and the Amal Movement, have agreed on “disowning anyone who breaches security, requesting that the security forces intensify their presence in Choueifat, identifying fixed locations until the elections are over, and restraining from carrying out provocative processions.”
Campaigning lasts 24 hours before polling and has seen various kinds of violations of the electoral law.
Several young men from the Sabaa party — a group of independent activists — demonstrated on Tuesday outside the Ministry of Interior, carrying banners questioning the ministry’s role in election-related issues.
“Serious violations are taking place because the country is out of control; many are exploiting their positions and pouring (in) their money, and conflicts are happening at grassroots level — people are tearing down photos of candidates and individuals are fighting with one another,” said Gilbert Hobeish on behalf of the demonstrators.
He added: “This is unacceptable, and the minister of interior must take responsibility.”
Hobeish criticized the Electoral Supervisory Commission, saying “it only oversees the civil society or change candidates.”
“We reject this in toto,” he said.
Ali Al-Amin, a candidate on the Shbaana Haki electoral list (who was assaulted last Sunday by Hezbollah supporters in the town of Shaqra because he hung his photo outside his house), held a press conference in the town of Nabatiyah Al-Fawqa and renewed his protest against “the tyranny that silences voices, oppresses liberties and acts on its own will and temperaments, making us feel as if we were in the law of the jungle era.”
He said that “resistance isn’t anyone’s property nor is it one party’s ownership.”
He also called on “the free people of the south to decide which life they wanted and to which homeland and identity they belonged.”
Campaign fever is rising in Lebanon 48 hours before the elections are held for the first time for Lebanese communities in several Arab countries. These elections are to be held 11 days before parliamentary elections take place inside Lebanon.