Bassem Youssef recording studio targeted by opponents

Ahram Online , Wednesday 30 Oct 2013

Dozens of pro-army protesters stage a demonstration on Wednesday against Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef outside Radio Theatre in downtown Cairo, where the show is recorded live

Protests against Bassem Youssef in downtown Cairo (Photo: Ati Metwaly)

The administrative team for Bassem Youssef's show Al-Bernameg contacted the Ministry of Interior to request additional security forces to secure the premises where the weekly shooting of the show is scheduled to take place.

Al-Bernameg, which airs on Fridays, is usually recorded on Wednesdays at 8pm at Radio Theatre in downtown Cairo in the presence of a live audience.

“Today there will be restrictions on the allocation of audience tickets to avoid chaos inside the studio,” an administrative source told Al-Ahram's Arabic news website, adding that Tuesday’s rehearsal was cancelled.

Meanwhile, dozens of supporters of the General Commander of the Armed Forces Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi are gathering near Radio Theatre to protest what they perceive as slander of the military commander during Youssef’s last episode on Friday.

According to an Ahram Online reporter at the scene, protesters chanted "the people and the army are one hand," and "Bassem is a traitor."

"We are against Bassem Youssef and his last Al-Bernameg episode, in which he was against the army and the Egyptian people. He is trying to give power back to the Muslim Brotherhood. As such, he is a traitor," one of the protesters told Ahram Online.

A small protest erupted on the other side of the street, where supporters of Youssef held banners reading, "Continue Bassem, down with Morsi, Sisi and Mubarak."

Youssef’s episode on Friday, which aired after an almost three-month hiatus, stirred controversy after he poked fun at supporters of El-Sisi, who has became a hugely popular figure following the ouster of Mohamed Morsi on 3 July.

In one skit, a woman named "the Public" calls into a love advice show raving about the love of her life who saved her from an abusive husband, implying the hero is general Sisi.

However, at the end of the episode, Youssef criticised recently leaked comments by El-Sisi which implied that the government might attempt to control the media.

By Saturday, at least four complaints had been filed with the country's top prosecutor, accusing Youssef of defaming the military in his show, a judicial official said.

One of the complaints said that Youssef had "undermined the honour and dignity of Egypt and its people" in a manner that sowed sedition and spread lies.

One complainant, well-known politician Ahmed El-Fadaly, referred to the skit of the adoring woman, accusing Youssef of portraying Egypt as a "dallying woman who betrays her husband with military men."

El-Fadaly, who heads the Association of Young Muslims, also accused the satirist of belittling the armed forces' efforts to deal with terrorism, and of misrepresenting the popular protests against former president Mohamed Morsi as a coup, according to a copy of the complaint obtained by The Associated Press.

A total of almost forty legal complaints have been filed against Youssef to date.

In his weekly column in privately-owned daily Al-Shorouk on Tuesday, Youssef said Egypt’s liberals were as intolerant as their Islamist opponents, and as unwilling to accept criticism of themselves or the country's interim-authorities.

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