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Egypt satirist faces new probe for 'insulting Pakistan'

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Egyptian president Morsi receiving his honourary degree. -Photo by Reuters

CAIRO: Egyptian prosecutors are probing new complaints against popular satirist Bassem Youssef, this time for “insulting Pakistan” and “spreading atheism,” judicial sources told AFP on Tuesday.

The wildly popular Youssef – whose weekly political satire programme Al-Bernameg (The Show) has spared few public figures of merciless critique – is currently on bail pending investigation into charges of insulting President Mohamed Morsi and Islam.

The new lawsuits accuse Youssef of “insulting the state of Pakistan and causing tensions in its relations with Egypt.”

He is also accused of insulting religion and “spreading atheism.”

In an episode after Morsi visited Pakistan in March, Youssef made fun of a hat worn by the president when he received an honorary doctorate from a university in Islamabad.

One lawsuit claimed that Youssef was attempting to “spread atheism” after he allegedly made fun of the prayer ritual which constitutes “questioning one of the five pillars of Islam.”

Youssef confirmed he was being investigated again on his Twitter account. “A new investigation started against me accusing me of: insulting Islam (again), spreading atheism & insulting Pakistan #LOL.”

Under Egypt's legal system, complaints are filed to the public prosecutor who decides whether there is enough evidence to refer the case to trial.

Suspects can be detained during this stage of investigation.

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