Egypt to try 242 supporters of ousted president

CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian authorities on Thursday ordered new trials for 242 supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, the latest in a series of mass tribunals against backers of the ousted Islamist president over protests and violence.

Thousands have been arrested in a crackdown on Mohammed Morsi's supporters since his ouster in July. Recently, authorities have announced a string of trials of low-level Brotherhood members, each with dozens of defendants.

In the latest cases, the officials said Thursday that 170 Islamists in the southern city of Assiut were charged with storming and burning government installations. Another 72 in Beheira province, northwest of Cairo, will be tried on charges of attempted murder, illegal protests and acquisition of firearms.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters. Meanwhile, Egypt's prosecutor general ordered an inquiry into a complaint accusing the country's top satirist Bassem Youssef for mocking the military and its top commander Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

Youssef was back on air on Friday ridiculing the sweeping nationalist fervor that gripped Egyptians after the military ouster of Morsi and the subsequent euphoria surrounding el-Sissi, widely expected to run for president.

Youssef — often compared to the U.S. comedian Jon Stewart — and his show "El-Bernameg," were suspended last fall after his private broadcaster CBC said he had violated its editorial policy and contractual obligations, and that he upset Egyptian sensibilities by attacking "symbols of the state." Egyptian government and presidential officials said the decision was a private issue between Youssef and the station.

In his latest show, aired on Saudi-owned MBC Egypt network, Youssef jabbed at Egyptian fashion and cooking shows, some of which seem to go out of their way to mention el-Sissi in the programs. He made a joke about street vendors selling clothes "autographed by el-Sissi" and a popular chef attempting to bake a birthday cake for the military commander.

Youssef's program has often stirred controversies, making him the target of many legal complaints. Authorities investigated him over his last episode aired on CBC on charges of disrupting public order and insulting Egypt and military leaders.

His popularity peaked during Morsi's rule, when he targeted him and his Islamist allies with weekly mockery for mixing religion and politics. Youssef also was briefly detained and released on bail under Morsi on accusations of insulting the president and Islam.

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