April 6, 2013 / 2:23 PM / 6 years ago

Egypt court turns down Islamist lawsuit against TV satirist

CAIRO (Reuters) - An Egyptian court on Saturday threw out a lawsuit calling for a popular television satirist to be banned for insulting the president and Islam, but he still faces a criminal investigation on similar charges.

Bassem Youssef (C), the country's best-known satirist, gestures to journalists and activists as he arrives at the high court to appear at the prosecutor's office in Cairo March 31, 2013. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

Critics of the government see the cases against Bassem Youssef, who has cited U.S. satirist Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” as a model, as part of a crackdown on dissent. This is denied by the government of President Mohamed Mursi and its Islamist allies, the Muslim Brotherhood.

A Cairo administrative court rejected a petition brought by Mahmoud Abu el-Aineen, an Islamist lawyer, to ban Youssef’s program and shut down independent television channel CBC, legal sources said.

Youssef, who rose to fame with a satirical online show after the uprising that swept the previous president, Hosni Mubarak, from power in 2011, had been released on bail on Sunday after the prosecutor-general issued a warrant for his arrest.

The prosecutor also accused Youssef of insulting Islam and undermining Mursi’s standing.

The case brought by el-Aineen, who works for the Muslim Brotherhood but filed the complaint on his own, is not related to the prosecutor’s.

On Tuesday, Egypt’s investment authority threatened to cancel CBC’s license because Youssef’s show violated rules governing the media in Cairo where the channel is located, state media said.

It said the show contained vulgarity, insults, sexual innuendo and bad language.

Last week, the United States, which gives $1.3 billion in military aid per year to the North African country, accused Egypt of muzzling freedom of speech.

Egypt has been in political turmoil since the ouster of Mubarak, a long-time U.S. ally.

Reporting by Omar Fahmy and Ulf Laessing; Editing by Jason Webb

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