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Egypt questions comedian after appearance on satirist show

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Egyptian prosecutors on Wednesday freed on bail a comedian after questioning him on blasphemy charges following his appearance on the show of satirist Bassem Youssef, who is himself under investigation.

Stand-up comedian Ali Kandil said he was released after posting bail of 5,000 Egyptian pounds (around $730), in a statement on his Facebook page.

Kandil is accused of insulting Islam during a segment on Youssef's weekly show "Al Bernameg" in February, in which he poked fun at the discourse and style of some Muslim clerics -- bringing to television screens what is already widely said in Egyptian homes.

Kandil's questioning comes hours after Islamist President Mohamed Morsi stressed Egypt's commitment to freedom of expression.

"The presidency reiterates the importance of freedom of expression and fully respects press freedom," Morsi's office said in a statement.

In a video posted on the Internet, Kandil dismissed the charges against him as "utter nonsense" but said he would go to the prosecutor's office because he had nothing to hide.

"I take responsibility for every word I said," Kandil said.

He said that it was people's responsibility to uphold the goals of the 2011 revolt that toppled Hosni Mubarak -- bread, freedom and social justice.

"The part in my control, the one I can guarantee in my role, is freedom, freedom of expression," Kandil said.

The soaring number of legal complaints against journalists has cast doubt on Morsi's commitment to freedom of expression.

Youssef is out on bail facing accusations of insulting Morsi and Islam, and he now faces a new investigation for "threatening public security."

His high profile case prompted the United States to express "real concerns" about the direction being taken by the Egyptian government.

jaz/bpz

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130403/egypt-questions-comedian-after-appearance-satirist-show