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Bassem Youssef complaints to be investigated by Egypt prosecution

Prosecution to investigate complaints filed against popular satirist; Youssef debates authoritarian regimes, nationalism in Al-Shorouk

Ahram Online , Tuesday 12 Nov 2013
 Bassem Youssef
Popular Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef (Photo: Reuters)
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Egypt's public prosecutor ordered on Tuesday that 30 complaints filed against Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef be referred to Judge Zakaria Abdel-Aziz, the general attorney for Cairo appeals prosecution, for further investigation.

The complaints include accusations that Youssef offended Egypt's army chief Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi during the third season's first episode of his popular show 'Al-Bernameg.'

Youssef's first episode, which came after an almost three month hiatus, stirred controversy when the popular satirist poked fun at supporters of El-Sisi, whose popularity soared following the ouster of Mohamed Morsi on 3 July.

The weekly show, which airs on Fridays, was suspended on 1 November minutes before the second episode was due to air on host channel CBC. The channel claimed that Youssef and his producer had "violated what had been agreed upon" with the channel, as well as CBC's "editorial policies."

Following the incident, Al-Bernameg staff immediately issued a statement denying that they had violated the contract. The statement added that Youssef had not been notified of the ban in advance, learning his show was suspended at the same time as viewers.

In an article entitled "Treason on Tango," published on Tuesday in the Egyptian daily Al-Shorouk, Youssef gave examples of artists and intellectuals who had been falsely accused by authoritarian regimes of "treason" for "refusing to follow the herd." Youssef further accused religious, military and fascist states of using nationalism as an excuse to frame dissenters.

Following the banning of Al-Bernameg's second episode, many pointed blame at state institutions. However, the presidency issued a statement asserting that the suspension was an internal matter between Youssef and CBC.

"Whether you're a Muslim scholar, a Hollywood writer, or a composer of the most beautiful Tango melodies, history will maybe remember you for your work and creativity, but most probably you'll live as an outcast, hated and accused of treason, spying or blasphemy," wrote Youssef in his article.

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