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Brotherhood's FJP condemns US statement on TV satirist's arrest

Freedom and Justice Party blasts Washington's criticism of Bassem Youssef's arrest, calling it 'flagrant interference' in Egypt's domestic affairs

Ahram Online , Tuesday 2 Apr 2013
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The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) on Tuesday condemned a recent US State Department statement criticising an arrest warrant issued earlier this week for Egyptian television satirist Bassem Youssef.

On Monday, the US State Department declared that ongoing investigations of Youssef and other critics of President Mohamed Morsi indicated a "disturbing trend" of growing restrictions on freedom of expression in Egypt.

The FJP responded to the statement by accusing the US of "flagrant interference" in Egypt's' affairs.

The party went on to clarify that Youssef had been accused mainly of "insulting religion and mocking religious practices," rather than insulting the president, as the US statement had implied.

Insulting religion, the FJP asserted, "constitutes a dangerous violation of law, tradition and social and intellectual norms in Egyptian society."

The US statement, the party added, "can only be seen as a US endorsement of [Egyptian] media personalities who insult religion." The FJP went on to stress its "absolute condemnation" of the state department's assertions.

Monday's strongly-worded statement by US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland was issued one day after Youssef was released on bail following charges that had insulted Egypt's president and the Islamic faith.

Youssef's Al-Bernameg show, which is inspired in part by Jon Stewart's Daily Show, is known for lampooning Morsi – Egypt's first-ever freely-elected president – and conservative Islamist clerics.

Youssef's questioning by the authorities came after arrest warrants were also issued for five prominent anti-government activists accused of inciting violence.

Nuland asserted that the Egyptian government had apparently failed to show even-handedness when investigating cases of police brutality and attacks against anti-Morsi protesters and journalists.

Egypt's Public Prosecution, meanwhile, has denied that the recent arrests warrants were political in nature, asserting that they simply represented the application of Egyptian law.

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