The Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), the political wing of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, has condemned the United States’ “blatant interference” in Egypt’s internal affairs.
On Monday, US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland censured the government of Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, for allegedly stifling freedom of expression.
In 2012, Morsi, the Chairman of the Freedom and Justice Party, was elected president in a free and fair election that was held after the Egyptians launched a successful revolution against the pro-US regime of former President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
“We are concerned that the public prosecutor appears to have questioned and then released on bail Bassem Youssef on charges of insulting Islam and President Morsi. This coupled with recent arrest warrants issued for other political activists is evidence of a disturbing trend of growing restrictions on the freedom of expression,” Nuland said at a press briefing.
“We’re also concerned that the government of Egypt seems to be investigating these cases while it has been slow or inadequate in investigating attacks on demonstrators outside of the presidential palace in December 2012, other cases of extreme police brutality, and illegally blocked entry of journalists to media cities. So there does not seem to be an evenhanded application of justice here.”
Egypt’s prosecutor-general recently issued an arrest warrant for television satirist Bassem Youssef, who has been accused of insulting the holy religion of Islam as well as the president.
On Tuesday, the Freedom and Justice Party said the government is fully committed to freedom of expression.
Referring to Nuland’s remarks about Youssef, the FJP said on its official Facebook page they are outraged at her “unreserved audacity” and her “blatant interference in the internal affairs of Egypt on an issue that is still under investigation” and is being dealt with through the Egyptian legal system.
“The comments by the American spokeswoman give the impression that the issue is to do with insulting the president when in fact the core of the complaints is to do with contempt for the Muslim faith and ridicule of religious practices,” it said in the statement. “If proven, this contempt constitutes a grave breach of the law, customs, social and cultural constants in the Egyptian society.”