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Egypt presidency slams US embassy's statement on TV satirist

Presidency accuses US embassy in Cairo of engaging in 'political propaganda' following embassy's Twitter post condemning recent questioning of TV satirist Bassem Youssef

Ahram Online , Tuesday 2 Apr 2013
Mohammed Morsi
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi (Photo: AP)
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A Twitter post by the US embassy in Cairo criticising the recent questioning of television satirist Bassem Youssef by the Public Prosecution drew a sharp response from Egypt's presidency on Tuesday.

Responding via Twitter, the presidency accused the US embassy of engaging in "political propaganda" after the embassy posted a video of US television satirist John Stewart poking fun at Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.

Stewart also condemned an arrest warrant issued earlier this week for Youssef, whose Al-Bernameg television programme was inspired in part by Stewart's 'The Daily Show.'

Youssef was questioned by public prosecutors following charges that he had insulted Morsi, denigrated Islam and spread false news with the aim of disrupting public order. He was released on bail on Sunday.

"It's inappropriate for a diplomatic mission to engage in such negative political propaganda," read the Twitter post by Egypt's presidency.

On his show, Stewart mocked President Morsi for allegedly targeting media figures and activists instead of dealing with Egypt's growing economic and social problems.

"Without Bassem and all those journalists and bloggers and brave protesters who took to Tahrir Square to voice dissent, you, President Morsi, would not have been in a position to repress them," Stewart claimed.

Earlier, the US State Department had stated that the ongoing investigation of Youssef indicated a "disturbing trend" of growing restrictions on freedom of expression in Egypt.

US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland asserted that the Egyptian government had 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 warrant for Youssef's arrest was political in nature, asserting that it simply represented the application of Egyptian law.

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