World Bulletin / News Desk
Several Egyptians were investigated for insulting Morsi during his brief term in office, fuelling fears that the Muslim Brotherhood politician was trying to crush freedoms won in the 2011 uprising that ousted veteran autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
The most high profile case was that of Bassem Youssef, a popular comedian likened to U.S. satirist Stewart, who regularly poked fun at Morsi.
The prosecutor general ordered Youssef's arrest in March, drawing criticism from Washington, but the cardiologist was released on bail.
Youssef hosted Stewart on his show in Cairo in June, and Stewart took aim at Mursi and his government, saying: "A joke has never shot teargas at a group of people in a park. It's just talk."
Under the decree, those found guilty of insulting the president face a fine of up to 30,000 Egyptian pounds ($4,300). Under the previous law, they could be jailed for up to three years.
"We were hoping (such cases could be dealt with) through civil litigation and compensation, not fines, but it is still a good step," rights lawyer Gamal Eid said.
"We are against imprisonment and we prefer no criminal courts for publishing crimes," he said.
"This amendment, while a general step in the right direction, doesn't go anywhere near far enough, because it doesn't address the multiple provisions in the penal code that limit freedom of expression," she told Reuters.
Under the amended law, anyone found guilty of insulting the president would face a minimum fine of 10,000 pounds.
($1 = 6.9949 Egyptian pounds)