US embassy tweets spark row

2013-04-04 08:42
Twitter. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Twitter. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Washington - The US embassy in Cairo briefly froze its Twitter account on Wednesday after coming under fire from Egyptian leaders for tweeting a link to a US comedy show mocking President Mohamed Morsi.

The embassy, which is a vociferous user of Twitter, shut down the account and deleted the tweet, which had linked to a clip by popular US comedian 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 programme Albernameg (The Show), modelled on Stewart's satirical The Daily Show.

In his Monday night show on Comedy Central, Stewart delivered a wise-cracking monologue mocking 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 spokesperson Victoria Nuland said the embassy's Twitter feed @USEmbassyCairo was back again on 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".

It is not the first time the embassy has landed in hot water for its Twitter feed, after it tweeted a series of statements on 11 September 2012 as it sought to calm a wave of protests triggered by an anti-Islam video.

Republicans seized on the embassy statements to accuse the administration of apologising for an anti-Islam video that sparked widespread protests.

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