The US Embassy in Cairo deleted a controversial tweet about attacks on freedom of expression in Egypt following complaints by President Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.
The embassy temporarily shut down its account and deleted the tweet, which had linked to a clip by popular US funnyman Jon Stewart denouncing the arrest of Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef.
Youssef, dubbed Egypt’s Stewart, is on bail facing accusations of insulting Morsi and Islam, and is under investigation for “threatening public security.”
Egyptian judicial sources said Youssef was being investigated along with the head of the CBC television channel, which airs his weekly program “Albernameg” (The Show), modeled on Stewart’s satirical “The Daily Show.”
In his Monday night show on Comedy Central, Stewart mocked Morsi for cracking down on dissent, pointing out that the former senior Muslim Brotherhood figure was swept to power in the revolution that ousted long-time dictator Hosni Mubarak.
But Morsi’s office took issue with the clip tweeted by the US embassy, saying on its @EgyPresidency account that “it’s inappropriate for a diplomatic mission to engage in such negative political propaganda.”
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the embassy’s Twitter feed @USEmbassyCairo was back again Wednesday afternoon, after what she called “glitches with the way the Twitter feed has been managed.”
Embassy staff, who are responsible for maintaining the feed as part of their digital diplomacy outreach, were now “reviewing” their procedures on “how they decide what they want to tweet from their embassy site.”
The Twitter incident comes amid heightened U.S.-Egyptian tensions as Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood seek to consolidate power.
Nuland called Youssef’s arrest “evidence of a disturbing trend of growing restrictions on the freedom of expression” on Monday, prompting the Freedom and Justice Party to denounce her “unreserved audacity” and “blatant interference in the internal affairs of Egypt.”
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