Bassem Youssef's El-Bernameg gone for good

Ahram Online, Monday 2 Jun 2014

Popular satirist calls cancellation of show a 'victory', says he refuses to compromise or 'offend' the show by altering content

Bassem Youssef
Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef announce the end of his show El-Bernameg (Photo courtesy of Youssef's official Facebook page)

Egypt's popular satire show El-Bernameg hosted by Bassem Youssef will no longer resume, Youssef announced in a press conference on Monday.

According to Youssef, the decision comes after he and his crew realised that it's better to end the show rather than "offending it" or changing it, adding that they refused offers of airing the program from outside Egypt because such a decision "would kill its credibility and that YouTube cannot fund the show".

He added that the show was stopped without even viewing the content of its last episode.

"The show in its current shape will not be allowed to return on any Egyptian or Arab channel," he told reporters at downtown Cairo's historic Cinema Radio, where Youssef had previously recorded his show every Wednesday.

El-Bernameg, hosted by the Saudi-owned MBC Misr and re-aired on German channel Deutsche Welle before the stoppage, was initially scheduled to resume last Friday after a mandatory break was imposed on the show during the presidential election, which the channel said was taken to avoid "influencing public opinion".

"The environment that we live in is not suitable for the show and I am tired and we are at the end of our tether," Youssef said on Monday. "To those who are happy the show stopped: I tell them that the stopping of El-Bernameg is a victory for us."

The third season of El-Bernameg resumed 7 February on MBC Misr after being cancelled on Egyptian satellite channel CBC in October 2013.

The show had been suspended following complaints that Youssef had mocked supporters of former army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi – who won the country's presidential race last week by an overwhelming majority – and allegedly insulted Egypt's military.

Before the hiatus, several protests organised by supporters of the former defence minister were held in front of Cinema Radio.

In February, Egypt's general prosecution opened up fresh complaints accusing Youssef of insulting the armed forces, the will of the Egyptian people and the "symbols" of both Egypt and its government, thereby threatening the safety and stability of the country.

The prosecutor referred the case to Cairo's appeals prosecution, which is already looking into at least 30 complaints filed against Youssef since November.

The 39-year-old comedian also faced a probe under ousted president Mohamed Morsi over allegations of insulting the president and Islam.

He was a staunch opponent of the ousted president and was influential in driving public opinion against him and his Islamist allies.

According to a February poll conducted by Baseera – an independent Egyptian polling agency – El-Bernameg had approximately 8.3 million viewers inside Egypt.

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