* Opposition, activists see crackdown on dissent
* Comedian mocks Mursi as he arrives for questioning
* Prosecutor ordered five activists arrested last week
CAIRO, March 31 Egyptian prosecutors questioned
Egypt's most prominent television satirist on Sunday over
allegations he insulted the president and Islam, a case that has
increased opposition fears of a crackdown on dissent.
Bassem Youssef rose to fame after the uprising that swept
Hosni Mubarak from power in 2011, with a satirical online show.
His programme, that has been compared to the Daily Show of U.S.
satirist Jon Stewart, is now broadcast on Egyptian TV.
The comedian is accused, among other things, of undermining
the standing of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi. The prosecutor
general issued an arrest warrant for him on Saturday after at
least four legal complaints filed by Mursi supporters.
An official in the prosecutor general's office confirmed
that questioning had begun. Youssef voluntarily showed up at the
prosecutor general's office on Sunday, so as to avoid arrest.
He was wearing an oversized version of a graduation hat
modelled on one donned by the president when he was awarded an
honorary degree in Pakistan earlier in March.
Youssef has worn the hat on his widely-watched show, one of
many satirical jabs at the president. Last year, he poked fun of
Mursi's repeated use of the word "love" by singing a love song
to a red pillow with the president's face printed on it.
The questioning of the comedian has raised fears over
freedom expression in the post-Mubarak Egypt.
"It is an escalation in an attempt to restrict space for
critical expression," said Heba Morayef, Egypt director at Human
Prominent liberal politician Mohamed ElBaradei said it was
the kind actions only seen in "fascist regimes". "It is the
continuation of the failed and ugly moves to thwart the
revolution," he said.
Youssef's questioning came after the prosecutor general
issued five arrest warrants for prominent political activists
accused of inciting violence against the Muslim Brotherhood, the
group that propelled Mursi to power in last year's election.
The prosecutor's office has also summoned several other
prominent media figures for questioning over accusations they
insulted the president.
Opposition figures say the prosecutor, Talaat Ibrahim, is
biased towards Mursi, who appointed him last November, and they
want him removed from office.
A court ruled last week that Ibrahim's appointment was
illegal and that he must step down. Ibrahim, who denies any
bias, plans to appeal the ruling.
(Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)