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Egypt Court Rules in Favor of Comic Bassem Youssef

Egyptian TV comic Bassem Youssef, known as the Jon Stewart of the Arab world, is back on the air with his bite intact after being arrested and released on bail on charges of insulting the country’s Islamist President Mohamed Morsi.

Youssef’s hugely popular weekly show “El Bernameg” (The Program), which is inspired by “The Daily Show,” went out regularly Friday (April 5) on Cairo’s Capital Broadcast Center, with millions of Egyptians tuning in to catch the scathing satirist spout punchlines about the publicity he got by being briefly detained, including support from Jon Stewart on the U.S. “Daily Show,” which put him in the global spotlight.

Undeterred by moves to muzzle his act, Youssef returned to ridicule both the prosecutor and the president who is now attempting to distance himself from the affair. The incident also sparked diplomatic tensions between Egypt and the U.S. after the American embassy in Cairo tweeted the 11-minute segment of the “Daily Show” which Stewart devoted to censorship of Youssef’s jokes.

In key further developments in the emblematic case, a Cairo court on Saturday (April 6) dismissed the proceedings against Youssef. And Egypt’s highest judicial body on Sunday (April 7) urged the prosecutor who had ordered Youssef’s brief detention, Talaat Abdullah, to step down, clearly urging a major backpedal on all fronts.

Youssef is a former heart surgeon who rose to fame as a satirist shortly after the 2011 Egyptian revolution by uploading videos on YouTube which poked caustic fun at the country’s absurdist post-revolutionary climate.

In another instance of Egypt’s censorship chaos, docu “Jews of Egypt,” by Amir Ramses, has been playing in Egyptian cinemas since March 27 after being first blocked and subsequently cleared by local censors. Docu depicts changes in Egyptian society’s rapport with its Jewish minority during the first half of the 20th century.

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