Egyptian Jon Stewart: 'Daily Show' Host Condemns Youssef Bassem's Arrest

Last week popular satirist Yousseff Bassem, also known as the "Egyptian Jon Stewart," made news when Egyptian state prosecutors ordered his arrest for allegedly "belittling" President Morsi and insulting Islam. He has since been released on bail, and the Egyptian court has rejected the Muslim Brotherhood lawyer's lawsuit which called for a ban on both Bassem's TV show, The Programme, and the channel which aired it, claiming that they did not have an interest in the case. He still, however, could face charges of insulting the country's president and Islam.

However, before the court had decided to throw out the case altogether, Jon Stewart — the real one — took to his own show, The Daily Show, to condemn the arrest of Bassem, who has been a guest on Stewart's show in the past, and to call out Morsi for suppressing oppression and jailing those who dared to have a different view from his own.

Stewart starts the 11-minute segment off with short news clips talking about just a few of Egypt's current problems — the country's untended aging infrastructure, rising inflation, spike in sexual assaults against women, the list goes on. And then he wonders out loud how, with all these mounting problems, will Morsi deal with all of this? He cuts to a news clip breaking the news of Bassem's arrest. 

"Oh good! Who's that guy? I bet he's a terror! What's he been, sabotaging Egypt's infrastructure? Or harassing Egyptian women on the streets? Or unemploying Egyptian people? What's he do?" 

When he learns that Bassem's crime is picking at the President and insulting Islam, his response is: "Seriously, that's illegal in Egypt? Because if insulting the president and Islam were a jailable offense here, Fox News go bye-bye."

Stewart then went on to mock those who are trying to silence Bassem, including Morsi by saying, “What are you worried about, Mr. President — the power of satire to overthrow the status quo? ... Just so you know, there’s been a grand total of, uh, zero toppled governments we’ve brought about.”

He ends the segment with his usual humor as well, saying "Democracy isn't democracy if it only last up until someone makes fun of your hat," referring to Bassem's bold move of mocking the president even as he made his way to jail last week by wearing a comically large version of the very same hat Morsi received from a university in Pakistan.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo also found itself at odds with the Egyptian president's office when it tweeted a video of The Daily Show's segment. The Egyptian president's office tweeted back at them angrily, saying "It's inappropriate for a diplomatic mission to engage in such a negative political propaganda."

To his credit, regardless of the controversy, Bassem seems to be rolling with the punches and headed back into studio on Wednesday to record the next episode of his show. He did warn, however, that while he was released, scores of others who had appeared as guests on his show were also being interrogated, showing that Morsi was not slowing down in the slightest in taking out all and any opposition. 

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Areej Elahi-Siddiqui

A Pakistani-American undergraduate student at the Seton Hall's School of Diplomacy and International Relations. She enjoys watching inordinate amounts of television, reading far too many books and drinking lots and lots of coffee.

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