Over the weekend, Egyptian political satirist and television host Bassem Youssef was interrogated by Egyptian authorities after he was charged with “disrupting public order” for riffing on President Mohammad Morsi and Islam. Egypt arrested. Morsi’s regime has been extra-sensitive about this type of media attention, and on Monday, Jon Stewart opened up his own show with a segment about the recent troubles of his Eyptian counterpart:
The U.S. embassy in Cairo has a reputation for being active on the Twitters, and tweeted out a link to Stewart’s segment — presumably because it was pretty funny and called Morsi out for his less-than-robust commitment to free speech.
The Egyptian president’s office didn’t take well to that at all.
— Egyptian Presidency (@EgyPresidency) April 2, 2013
Nor did the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm.
Another undiplomatic & unwise move by @usembassycairo, taking sides in an ongoing investigation & disregarding Egyptian law & culture
— Ikhwanweb (@Ikhwanweb) April 2, 2013
Wah, wah, wah. But, this morning, the Cairo embassy’s Twitter page suddenly wasn’t there anymore:
A little after noon ET, the page was back up; Foreign Policy reports that the decision to temporarily delete it was made by U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson in order to give them time to “put new procedures in place,” and that the State Department quickly urged them “to put the page back up, lest it appear that the United States is caving to the online pressure,” …but the oh-so-offensive Jon Stewart tweet is gone.
Nuland said at Wednesday’s briefing that the Embassy viewed the tweet as a mistake but she defended the State Department’s criticism of the Egyptian government on the issue.
“We’ve had some glitches with the way the twitter feed has been managed. This is regrettably not the first time. Embassy Cairo is looking at how to manage these glitches,” she said. “They came to the conclusion that the decision to tweet it in the first place didn’t accord with post management of the site.”
Because we wouldn’t want to be controversial in defending our human-rights values, would we?