Egypt court dismisses lawsuit against popular satirist

[JURIST] An Egyptian court on Saturday dismissed a lawsuit against popular satirist Bassem Youssef [official YouTube channel; official Twitter account], stating that the Islamist lawyer who brought the suit did not have standing. The lawyer, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood [official website], supporters of President Mohamed Morsi [JURIST news archives], filed the complaint [AP report] earlier this week against Youssef, who hosts Bernameg al-Bernameg, a satirical news program similar to the Daily Show [official websites], asking the court to ban his show for allegedly insulting Morsi and containing sexual innuendos. In his opinion, Judge Hassouna Tawqif stated that he believed the president's office would not file a complaint against Youssef or anyone else practicing freedom of expression. Tawqif's opinion may serve as precedent to dismiss any charges against Youssef if they are filed. Egyptian authorities also brought Youssef in for questioning earlier this week as part of an investigation to determine whether criminal charges should be filed. The president's office, however, has publicly proclaimed that it is not involved [press release] in any of the legal actions against Youssef. Youssef was released [Ahram report] on bail Saturday.

Egypt has been struggling to become more democratic and deal with human rights issues like freedom of speech ever since the 2011 Egyptian Revolution [JURIST backgrounder]. Last month, an Egyptian court overturned a decision [JURIST report] by Morsi to remove the prosecutor-general because it was an abuse of his power under the country's constitution. Weeks earlier, a court delayed [JURIST report] the country's scheduled upcoming elections so that it could review amendments to the election laws. In February, human rights groups in the country blamed the Ministry of Interior [JURIST report] for police brutality and the deaths of protestors that have occurred since January. Days earlier, the UN criticized Egypt's new demonstration law [JURIST report], which requires that protesters inform the government days before a planned protest and gives the government a right to reject these plans, saying that it violates international standards of freedom of assembly.

 

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