Bassem Youssef apologises after plagiarising British writer

Ahram Online, Wednesday 19 Mar 2014

Bassem Youssef, accused of plagiarising a British writer in his weekly column for Al-Shorouk newspaper, admits he made a mistake, though 'inadvertently'

Popular Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef (Photo:Reuters )

Egypt's top satirist, Bassem Youssef, has come under fire after being accused of plagiarising in his weekly column in the private newspaper Al-Shorouk from a British writer.

Youssef writes a weekly opinion piece in Al-Shorouk, along with presenting his weekly show "Al Bernameg" Arabic for "The Programme".

Often compared to US comedian Jon Stewart, Youssef has been one of the most controversial media figures in Egypt in recent years, with several legal complaints filed against him for making fun of the country's leaders.

In the latest of his problems, Youssef wrote an analytical piece on the political dilemma of the Crimea, which recently became part of Russia — an article later discovered to be originally written by Ben Judah.

Youssef acknowledged the mistake soon after and wrote an apology, saying that the reference to Judah's article was "inadvertently missed out."

"In the lastest article, I decided to try and copy a foreign political website, offering a different perspective to the crisis in Crimea, because I wanted to present another controversial point of view," Youssed said Wednesday in a follow-up apology on Al-Shorouk website.

"Unfortunately, I missed out the last two lines in the article, in which I refer to the original writer and another writer from whom I took a lesser portion," he added.

Youssef also apologised on Twitter.

"Once again, I deeply apologise for the error caused by the pressure of work," he added.

The mistake, not expected by Youssef who had always criticised media figures for not abiding by accuracy and objectivity standards, has backfired on him. A wave of social media outrage quickly spread against the popular and contested figure.

MBC Misr, the broadcasting network featuring Youssef's show, had said that the channel's signal was deliberately jammed two consecutive times by an unknown source while he was on air.

Judah, the original writer, had been alarmed after Egyptians bombarded him with tweets alerting him to the fact that Youssef copied his piece.

"Nation of Egypt! Though I have never been (and will likely never go) to Egypt, I make a public statement. I accept @DrBassemYoussef's apology," he wrote on Twitter.

Correction: Ahram Online initially referred to Ben Judah as a Ukrainian writer.

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