Egypt Independent

FJP condemns US comments on satirist arrest

The Freedom and Justice Party, the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, condemned a US statement claiming Egypt was cracking down on freedom of expression on Tuesday.

The official statement came in response to the arrest of popular comedian and presenter Bassem Youssef, who was released Sunday evening on LE15,000 bail.

He is accused of insulting the president and Islam.

The FJP said the comments by US Department of State spokesperson Victoria Nuland represent "‘severe interference within Egyptian affairs," adding that “the main component of the complaint [against] Youssef is contempt for Islam, not insulting the president.”

"We have concerns that freedom of expression is being stifled," Nuland told reporters at her daily briefing in Washington, DC, on Monday. "This, coupled with recent arrest warrants issued for other political activists, is evidence of a disturbing trend of growing restrictions on freedom of expression."

According to the party, the US supports "the contempt for religious teachings by media figures."

The FJP went on to describe Nuland's comments as an attempt to interfere in local affairs, which are under the purview of Egyptian investigators.

It said if Youssef is found guilty of defaming Islam, his crime “violated the law [as well as] cultural and social traditions, which could have dangerous consequences at such critical time.”

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm