Egyptian TV presenter Tawfiq Okasha gives the victory sign as he arrives for the opening of his trial, in Cairo (AP)
A popular Egyptian TV presenter accused of inciting the killing of the country's new president on air denied the charges at the opening of his trial, saying the case against him was part of a political row, Egypt's state news agency reported.
The flamboyant Tawfiq Okasha, who said on air that it was permissible to shed president Mohammed Morsi's blood, has emerged over the past months as one of the most popular media personalities in the country. He denounces almost everybody - starting with the uprising that forced former president Hosni Mubarak to step down, the youth groups behind it, the military, the Freemasons and now the Islamists.
His show attracted wide viewership partially because of his personal antics where he mixes humour, rural slang and simple language with claims to have definitive information and intelligence about some of the country's most pressing issues.
His attacks on the Islamists escalated after Mr Morsi, of the Muslim Brotherhood, was declared the winner in the country's first democratic elections.
The case against Mr Okasha is one of several lawsuits brought mainly by Egypt's Islamists against journalists, accusing them of inflammatory coverage and inciting the public against the Brotherhood, the country's largest political group.
The legal battles are drawing mixed reactions from pro-democracy groups, many of whom defend the right of free expression, denounce imprisonment of journalists and deem the Islamists' practices as repressive. Others side with the Islamists and accuse journalists facing trials of spreading propaganda in the service of former regime loyalists.
According to Egypt's Middle East News Agency (MENA), the prosecutor in the trial accused Mr Okasha of using his TV programme in July and August to incite the killing of Mr Morsi, and of insulting him by calling him an "illegitimate leader and a liar".
Mr Okasha denied the charges and said it was part of a political row between him and the Muslim Brotherhood group. If convicted, Mr Okasha could face up to three years in prison.
Mr Okasha told reporters his comments were taken out of context and that he was responding to threats he and his mother had received. MENA said the judges postponed the trial until October 3.
He entered the courthouse surrounded by hundreds of supporters. They chanted: "With our soul and blood we defend you."