Bassem Youssef faces legal complaints for ‘insulting’ Gen. Sisi

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Egypt’s television satirist Bassem Youssef, who faced legal action under ousted President Mohammad Mursi, had four complaints filed against him on Saturday for taking jabs at the country’s chief general Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

Youssef, often compared to U.S. comedian Jon Stewart, mocked the new pro-military fervor gripping Egypt in his program that aired for the first time on Friday night since Mursi’s ouster on July 3.

He also took jabs at the country’s powerful military chief Gen. Sissi lionized in the Egyptian media as a hero.

One of the complaints accused Youssef of using phrases that “undermine the honor and dignity of Egypt and its people” in a manner showing sedition and spreading lies, a judicial official told the Associated Press.

Another complaint was made by members of the “Sissi is my president” campaign blaming the comedian for discrediting Gen. Sissi, who ousted President Mursi following a popular uprising on June 30.

Eissa Sedoud, general coordinator of the campaign, accused Youssef of serving the Muslim Brotherhood, who seek to oust the current military-backed government.

“What I consider as a direct attack and defamation of the commander in chief of the armed forces undoubtedly plays in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood and its supporters,” Sedoud told al-Youm el-Sabee newspaper.

“This show that has many viewers … comes as an offense to the June 30 revolution that was backed by the Egyptian army,” he added.

No investigation into the complaints had started yet, an official told the Associated Press.

Such complaints, common under Egyptian law, are often shelved until prosecutors decide to start an investigation.

During Friday’s show, Youssef imitated the general’s soft-spoken, affectionate way of addressing the public, turning it into a lover’s romantic groove. In one skit, a woman named “the Public” calls into a love advice show raving about the love of her life who saved her from an abusive husband, Associated Press reported.

“He’s an officer as big as the world,” she coos adoringly, making a pun on a slogan el-Sissi uses in nearly every speech - “Egypt will be big enough to face down the world.” Then she adds, “He does have a sovereign streak.”

One complainant, well-known politician Ahmed el-Fadaly, referred to the skit of the adoring woman, accusing Youssef of portraying Egypt as a “dallying woman who betrays her husband with military men.”

El-Fadaly, who heads an association of young Muslims, also accused the satirist of belittling the armed forces’ efforts dealing with terrorism, and of misrepresenting the popular protests against Mursi as a coup.

In a copy of the complaint obtained by The Associated Press, el-Fadaly said the program contained phrases that undermined “the honor and dignity of Egypt and Egyptians and can only be characterized as ... blatant libel and insult that should enjoy no legal protection.”

In the episode, Youssef also shed the lights on the controversial issue of June 30 asking whether it was a real revolution or a military coup. He also used satire to criticize Islamist President Mursi.

Mursi supporters also sued Youssef for insulting the presidency and Islam, leading to his brief detention.

And on another note, members of “Ana Masri” (I am Egyptian) campaign have planned to protest on Wednesday against Youssef.

The campaign members will gather in front of the Radio Theatre in Egypt’s Down Town where the episodes of Youssef’s show are aired weekly. The protesters aim to show their resentment at Youssef’s show.

(With Associated Press)

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