CAIRO — President Mohammed Morsi’s first 200 days in office have seen more lawsuits filed on charges of “insulting the president” than during the governments of all Egyptian rulers since 1892, a leading rights group said.
About 24 lawsuits for insulting Morsi have been filed against journalists and activists since his election in June, the Arab Network for Human Rights said in a report.
Under ousted President Hosni Mubarak, four such cases were filed, the group said. Only one case was filed under Anwar Sadat, and five under King Farouk, it said.
The report, issued days before the second anniversary of the start of the 2011 uprising that ousted Mubarak, comes as Morsi faces growing criticism at home over his stewardship of the Arab world’s most populous nation.
His secularist, minority Christian, and youth activist critics charge him with devoting more energy to cementing the power of the Muslim Brotherhood than to running the country.
They are planning mass rallies on Jan. 25 against what they describe as the “Brotherhoodization” of Egypt.
Morsi has vowed to uphold a free press in a new, democratic Egypt. The Brotherhood has said the media is biased against Islamists, and accused it of stoking unrest that has hampered economic recovery and led to protests and clashes.
In one high-profile case, television host Tawfiq Okasha was acquitted on Jan. 8 of insulting and incitement to kill Morsi, though his al-Faraeen satellite channel remains off air.
Separately, the country’s top prosecutor, who Morsi appointed, ordered an investigation into television comedian Bassem Youssef following a complaint he insulted the president. Yussef’s satirical program is modeled on Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show.”
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