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. 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.