1 Apr 2013

Egyptian satirist released after questioning

1:32 pm on 1 April 2013

An Egyptian satirist has been released from custody after nearly five hours of questioning over allegations that he insulted Islam and the president.

Bassam Youssef shot to fame for lampooning public figures in amateur videos posted on the internet, following the uprising that ended the rule of Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, the ABC reports.

The heart surgeon turned comedian faces several complaints over his show El Bernameg (The Programme) which satirises many public figures including President Mohammed Morsi.

Mr Youssef turned up at the prosecutor's office surrounded by dozens of supporters and after the questioning was ordered to pay 15,000 Egyptian pounds ($US2200) bail, pending further investigation.

Government opponents say the warrant against such a high-profile figure is an escalation in a campaign to intimidate critics of the president and the Muslim Brotherhood, which supports Mr Morsi.

Bassam Youssef became a household name when his satirical show - likened to Jon Stewart's The Daily Show in the United States - began to be broadcast three times a week on one of Egypt's independent satellite stations, the BBC reports.

However, sketches in which he portrayed Mr Morsi as a pharaoh, calling him "Super Morsi" for holding on to executive and legislative powers, and, separately, putting the president's image on a pillow and parodying his speeches angered one Islamist lawyer, whose formal complaint resulted in the investigation.