Popular TV satirist Bassem Youssef turned himself in on Saturday in Cairo after a warrant for his arrest was issued. He was released later that day on an over $2,000 bail.
- (PHOTO:Twitter/Bassem Youssef)
Known as Egypt's Jon Stewart, Youssef has face criticism across the Middle East for his depiction of Islam and critical view of the government. In addition to "mocking" different part of the Islamic faith, the satirist has also used his show in the past to fact check politicians, according to the Associated Press.
Five "prominent pro-democracy activists" were arrested in the country last week as the country continues to struggle with political unrest. The political powers backing Islam and its more liberal critics have failed to reach grounds of compromise; the arrests have prompted some to accuse Islamist President Mohammed Morsi of attempting to "monopolize" power.
Youssef was accused of making statements on his highly watched television show "The Program" that were insulting to Morsi. In addition, Youssef has been accused of denigrating Islam and disturbing public peace.
Youssef spent "several hours" on Sunday morning being questioned by authorities, according to The New York Times. Since Morsi took office last June, at least two other cases regarding insults of the President have occurred. Morsi's media office has responded to Youssef's arrest by stating that the public prosecutor, Talaat Ibrahim, whom Mr. Morsi appointed in November, "operates independently from the presidency."
"The current legal system allows for individual complaints to be brought to the prosecutor general," the statement said "All the current well-publicized claims were initiated by citizens rather than the presidency."
Beginning his career as a doctor, Youssef start his own satirical show titled the "B+ Show" on YouTube in 2011; episode view count has since surpassed 15 million. After his success, the Egyptian-owned channel ONTV offered Youssef a deal for "The Program." From early on, the show became a source of many lawsuits.