A complaint has been filed against satirist Bassem Youssef for insulting President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi during a conversation with media personality Khaled Abu Bakr, which the latter then published on his Twitter account.
The complaint, filed with the general prosecutor by notorious lawyer Samir Sabry on Monday, demanded that Youssef be banned from travel until investigations are conducted with him and Abu Bakr, Sabry’s office confirmed to Mada Masr.
On September 27, Abu Bakr, host of Al-Qahera Al-Youm, posted on his Twitter account that he and Emad Eddin Hussein ran into Youssef at the airport in New York, where he “insulted Sisi and mocked him, and used indecent language against him.”
Youssef was complaining about canceling a bike race he was participating in, according to Abu Bakr, who said that he asked him not to describe the president and his visit to the US in those words “and to respect that there were women around” – but to no avail.
“I told him that what he’s saying is wrong and I cannot stand silent to those words,” Abu Bakr said. “I stopped him from finishing what he was saying and he left.”
He added that while it is not wrong to criticize anyone, it is rude to use offensive language in front of women and children.
On his Facebook page, Youssef said that as soon as he landed in Cairo he was surprised to see that Abu Bakr had already posted the entire encounter on Twitter.
He said that they were both in the same lounge at Cairo Airport when they landed, and that they had another encounter there.
“The thing that hurt him the most is when I told him that he is clearly used to writing reports telling on his friends since he was young,” Youssef wrote. “Clearly you’ve been with security since you were young.”
The next day, Abu Bakr tweeted that their conversation was not private and that Youssef audibly insulted several media personalities.
According to the Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), other lawyers filed complaints against Youssef over his encounter with Abu Bakr, demanding that he be stripped of his Egyptian citizenship.
ANHRI said that such complaints aim at gagging dissidents and appeasing the government.
The ANHRI statement said that a similar complaint was filed against Mohamed ElBaradei in 2011 which was later turned down by the court, but still left the door open for those who seek to “flatter and please the system through going after those who criticize it.”
“Such complaints, which are issued by fame seekers in an attempt to flatter the government, are unacceptable and violate the rule of the law,” ANHRI said.
Last June, Youssef announced that his satirical program Al-Bernameg had come to an end, citing threats to his safety and that of the production team among the reasons for the decision.
It had been airing on television channel MBC Misr, after being suspended by CBC in November.
Youssef said that MBC Misr informed him that the program had been banned.
Al-Bernameg was one of the few programs willing to cross red lines. Under former President Mohamed Morsi’s administration, multiple cases were filed against Youssef. He says that he also received threats against his own wellbeing, as well as that of his team.