Sunday, July 5, 2015

Jon Stewart, Egypt, and Democracy

You couldn't invent a subject more ripe for satire. As Egypt's economy goes down the tubes, and the country's security falls apart, the government of Egypt has charged prominent TV comedian Bassem Youssef with insulting President Mohammed Morsi and Islam.

Jon Stewart, Egypt, and Democracy

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You couldn’t invent a subject more ripe for satire. As Egypt’s economy goes down the tubes, and the country’s security falls apart, the government of Egypt has charged prominent TV comedian Bassem Youssef with insulting President Mohammed Morsi and Islam. His “crimes”? Lampooning everyone from Morsi, to fundamentalist clerics to the Egyptian opposition, for which he became known as “Egypt’s Jon Stewart”..

Perhaps Morsi’s minions really believe these insults are what’s causing the chaos in their country. Not surprisingly, America’s own Jon Stewart, who’s had Youssef on his show, has another view. His riff on the Youssef affair here and here is a brilliant dissection of Egypt’s failed revolution and Morsi’s hypocrisy, including clips of the Egyptian leader defaming Jews and Zionists (Youssef showed these clips on his show.).

Most telling, Stewart shows a CNN interview clip of Morsi stating that he welcomes criticism. When CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asks the Egyptin president whether critics like Youssf are safe, Morsi insists there’s “no way” any harm can befall them. As Stewart points out, Egypt’s independent journalists and bloggers helped make its revolution and to achieve freedom for Muslim Brotherhood leaders such as Morsi.

Having been voted into power, the Brotherhood seems eager to imitate the repressive regime it replaces. But Egyptians love humor, and the charges against Bassem Youssef may boomerang.

Inquirer Opinion Columnist
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About this blog

Trudy Rubin’s Worldview column runs on Thursdays and Sundays. Over the past decade she has made multiple trips to Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt, Turkey, Israel and the West Bank and also written from Syria, Tunisia, Lebanon, Iran, Russia, Ukraine, South Korea and China. She is the author of Willful Blindness: the Bush Administration and Iraq, a book of her columns from 2002-2004. In 2001 she was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in commentary and in 2008 she was awarded the Edward Weintal prize for international reporting. In 2010 she won the Arthur Ross award for international commentary from the Academy of American Diplomacy.

Reach Trudy at trubin@phillynews.com.

Trudy Rubin Inquirer Opinion Columnist
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