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Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef vows to pull no punches on TV return

Ahead of El-Bernameg's return, prominent satirist says his material might prompt legal complaints from supporters of army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi

Ahram Online, Tuesday 22 Oct 2013
Egyptian popular television satirist Bassem Youssef
Egyptian popular television satirist Bassem Youssef, who has come to be known as Egypt's Jon Stewart, waves to is supporters as he enters Egypt's state prosecutors office to face accusations of insulting Islam and the country's Islamist leader in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, March 31, 2013. (Photo: AP)
Views: 3481
Views: 3481

Political satirist Bassem Youssef believes supporters of army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi may file legal complaints against him when his show comes back on air, adding that fear of censorship will not stop him from political critique.

In an op-ed published in private daily El-Shorouk, Youssef said he expects El-Sisi's cohort to be against his show as much as loyalists of ousted president Mohamed Morsi were during his tenure.

"They won't stand a word against El-Sisi," said the famous doctor-cum-comedian.

Their defence of freedom and democracy will stop when the jokes about Morsi are used against El-Sisi, he added.

"Lovers of El-Sisi are using the same terms used by Morsi lovers."

Then prosecutor general Talaat Abdullah ordered Youssef’s arrest in March after complaints were made against him for allegedly insulting Morsi, denigrating Islam and spreading false news with the aim of disrupting public order.

Now, Youssef thinks he might be summoned by current Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat, due to possible complaints filed by those who had once praised his criticisms of Morsi.

"They [critics] keep saying 'be objective, be impartial,' and you feel flabbergasted at their definition of objective and impartial," Youssef said.

"Truth is, it means 'say what I want'... There is no tolerance from the Brotherhood side or those who call themselves liberals. Everyone is looking for a pharaoh that fits him."  

In the previous season of El-Bernameg (The Show), Youssef regularly made fun of Morsi, displaying videos of him that highlighted his contradictions and lack of transparency.

Youssef said some Morsi loyalists had dared him to criticise El-Sisi and interim President Adly Mansour the way he had Morsi.

"If [the interim rulers] act like Morsi I will be at your service," he replied to his doubters in the article, vowing not to be lenient with the incumbent leaders.

In the first season of Youssef's TV show after the 2011 uprising, he repeatedly lambasted the then-ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.

The military has re-entered politics since the overthrow of Morsi, with army chief El-Sisi achieving massive popularity.

El-Sisi announced the end of Morsi's tenure on 3 July as part of a roadmap agreed on by many political forces, Al-Azhar (the highest Islamic Sunni authority), and the Coptic Church, following mass protests against the Muslim Brotherhood figure's rule.

Youssef will resume his weekly TV show on 25 October after an almost three-month hiatus.

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