Egypt’s War on Satire: Prosecutor Summons Cairo’s Jon Stewart

I have long held that the worst thing about religious fundamentalism is that it is humorless. And, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood is proving me right. The Egyptian Prosecutor General has issued a summons to Bassem Youssef for the comic’s satire on fundamentalist president Muhammad Morsi and for mocking ‘religions.

Aljazeera English reports:

Morsi just justified this satire

7 Responses

  1. It is not the fault, in a sense, of the fundamentalists in this instance Juan. It is in part the nature of Judaism, Christianity, and I suspect Islam itself. The god of the Old Testament is a humorless sort – the only instance of laughter (apart from laughing enemies to scorn), is Sarah, who laughs when told she’ll conceive at an old age. The New Testament is not much better – only rather wry puns by Jesus about Peter, but again, no one even cracks a smile let alone laughs. It’s been a while since I read the Quran, and it is a text with which I am less familiar, but does anyone smile there? My bet is no. And please, if anyone has an instance of humor in these texts that I am missing, post a reply.

    It is very worth noting how different from the world of these three “modern” religions is from that of the Greeks and Romans, whose gods, while often vicious, vindictive, and petty, nonetheless appear to smile frequently (references to smiling gods are common in the Homeric corpus), are the butt of comic jokes eliciting belly laughs (as when Hephaistos catches Ares and Aphrodite in adultery in Homer), and can even preside over comedy and be honored with humor (e.g., Dionysus and the great festivals in which comedy was presented in ancient Athens). These gods can be grim and terrible, but they at least also have some comic sensibilities.

    I could never prove it and may be wrong, but my sense is that the lingering animus that exists between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – apart from the fact that it is in a sense a family fight and that those are the worst kinds – is driven in part by the simple fact that the three share a humorless heritage.

  2. Egypt is on the first steps of what has happened in Turkey in the last decade.

    In that country AKP was never called fundamentalist. After all they are a member of NATO and peddlers of Western interests in the region.

    However, it is a country where hundreds of students were arrested and their academic careers brought to an end for peaceful protest.

    It is a country where the Prime Minister regularly sues cartoonists for criticism.

    It is also a country where veteran journalists can no longer write for mainstream media because at some point anybody with any guts left criticized the government and lost their jobs as a result.

    Wait for 5 years and the same will happen in Egypt. The police will be brought under the control of the Muslim Brotherhood. Students and workers will be regularly beaten and arrested.

    This is not a question of whether Islam and democracy can coexist. However, in no Islamic country has there been social structures that limit the power of elected leaders. As AKP limited checks and balances in Turkey so will Morsi in Egypt.

    Humorless and fascistic days await the Middle East. So more the things change, the more they stay the same.

    • This should be great, welcome news for the humorless Serious People in the US rulership. They will be more easily able to converse, reactionary to reactionary, across a cultural divide that disappears when common interests in suppressing decency, stealing from the working stiffs, advancing a full-spectrum military industrialism, and “putting ‘{G_D}’ in the driver’s seat” become manifest. Any chance this might result in a reduction of predation and those “tensions” that bring “wars of choice” and those opaque and shifting “national interests” that so often lead only to sorrow and stupidity and mourning?

  3. This comedian is tapping into the anti political slam attitude in Egypt we understand and support him. But if in Egypt tomorrow there is a new comedian that taps into the anti zionism feeling in Egypt, then we would be calling him/her anti semitic.

  4. Question: Does anyone know of an Arabic equivalent for the term “killjoy”?

    Scholars note that authoritarian/totalitarian groups, regardless of ideology, see joy and fun as seditious. They lose the control they insist on having. This is what makes the most innocent school outings, when boys and girls are all in the same bus singing and going off on a picnic, one of the first things that Islamists object to. It’s why jazz was so challenging to the Soviets.

  5. The Egyptian national character IS a great sense of humor. I have not encountered a single Egyptian who didn’t have a great sense of humor. Morsi cannot erase the fundamental nature of his people by arresting those who offend him humorously. It makes no sense but clerics and their cousins in power (the brotherhood) are rarely a humorous bunch be they Muslim or Christian.

  6. Message to the Muslim Brotherhood:
    Watch “The Jon Stewart” show and “The Colbert Report” and you will realize the value of comedic satire.
    Fear Allah, educate yourselves, and learn to prioritize what is important in Islam.
    What is greater in the sight of Allah? Making fun of Morsi (little bit bad) or killing Muslims and spreading corruption (fitnah and fasaad) in the earth, like Assad (very bad)?
    Tailor your response to the gravity of the situation. Think before you act.

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