Egypt’s NAC condemns order to arrest TV satirist Bassem Youssef

Ahram Online, Sunday 31 Mar 2013

Egypt's pro-democracy movement National Association for Change says freedom to criticise anyone must be protected; ElBaradei slams arrest order as Youssef heads to prosecutor-general's office on Sunday

Bassem Youssef
Bassem Youssef (Photo: Ahram)

Egyptian National Association for Change (NAC) released a statement on Saturday denouncing the prosecutor-general’s order to arrest popular TV satirist Bassem Youssef.

Ealier on Saturday, Egypt's prosecutor-general ordered the arrest of famous political satirist Youssef to look into complaints accusing him of insulting President Mohamed Morsi, denigrating Islam and spreading false news with the aim of disrupting public order.

“The right to criticise public figures and senior officials is a legitimate right; there is no one who is above criticism,” said Ahmed Tah, spokesman of the NAC in a press statement.

Taha added that freedom was one the main goals of the January 25 revolution, and any threat to freedom of expression will not be allowed.

Meanwhile, Mohamed ElBaradei, the founding member of the NAC and head of the liberal Constitution Party, slammed on his Twitter account on Saturday night the accusations against youssef, saying they resemble ones leveled by “fascists regimes” against opponents.

These attacks aim at aborting the revolution, however, “change is inevitable,” added El-Baradei.

“Pathetic efforts to smother dissent and intimidate media is a sign of a shaky regime and a bunker mentality,” he added.

According to Gamal Eid, human rights lawyer and executive director of the Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), the number of 'insulting the president' lawsuits filed in the first 100 days of Morsi being in office was four times greater than those filed during the entire 30-year rule of ousted president Hosni Mubarak.

Most of the complaints filed since Morsi became president were submitted by private citizens, not by the office of the president, according to an ANHRI report.

Youssef said he would make himself available to the office of the prosecutor-general on Sunday.

Supporters of Bassem Youssef are planning a rally outside the office of the prosecutor-general in solidarity with the renowned satirist.

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