Bassem Youssef's TV show El-Bernameg suspended: CBC channel

Ahram Online , Friday 1 Nov 2013

CBC suspends Youssef's wildly-popular satirical show minutes before airtime on Friday after finding content in violation of station's 'editorial policy'

Bassem Youssef
Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef (Photo: Bassem Youssef official Facebook page)

Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef's show "El-Bernameg" was suspended by host channel CBC minutes before it was due to screen on Friday.

The channel announced in a statement read by TV anchor Khairy Ramadan that it had decided to suspend the show after review of the third season's second episode, which was yet to be screened, revealed that Youssef and his producer had "violated what has been agreed upon" with CBC, as well as CBC's "editorial policies."

He said the channel had decided to suspend the show until editorial and commercial disputes with Youssef were resolved.

After an almost three-month hiatus, Youssef returned to television last week.

Although El-Bernameg devotees eagerly awaited to hear how Youssef would address the Muslim Brotherhood's rocky summer, anticipation was even higher over whether or not Youssef would poke fun at popular army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.

Those weary of the Egyptian media's unabashed adoration of El-Sisi in the wake of Morsi's ouster were not disappointed.

In a segment on the interim president, Youssef drew laughs by displaying a picture of El-Sisi before quickly switching to the correct image of Interim President Adly Mansour, insinuating that El-Sisi was the actual ruler of the country. Youssef poked fun at El-Sisi's supporters for "turning him into a pharaoh through blind support."

"El-Sisi has turned into ... chocolate!" exclaimed Youssef, referring to the recent emergence of chocolate bars bearing the army chief's face in Egyptian sweet shops. "We're also selling Sisi-fours," said an actor playing a pastry shop owner, making a pun on the tea cake "petit fours."

El-Sisi, as head of the army, has grown immensely popular since the military's ouster of Morsi on 3 July following days of mass protests against Islamist rule.

Taking on a more serious tone at the end of the episode, Youssef – who was called in by Morsi-appointed general prosecutor Talaat Abdullah during Morsi's tenure on charges of insulting the president – stated "I am not with the [Islamists], who attacked us and declared us apostates ... and publicly called for our imprisonment."

"At the same time, I am not with hypocrisy, deification of individuals and creation of pharaohs," he went on. "We are afraid that fascism in the name of religion will be replaced with fascism in the name of nationalism," Youssef added, expressing concern over the possible suppression of free media during the transitional period.

El-Bernameg's home network expressed last week its disapproval of Youssef's season opener – the first episode since Morsi's ouster – condemning its mockery of the "symbols of the Egyptian state."

However, according to Bassem Sabry, a famous blogger and Twitter activist, this week's suspended episode did not poke fun at El-Sisi, but rather at the media and especially host channel CBC, according to those who attended the live show earlier Wednesday.

This is not the first time for CBC to suspend Youssef's show. In 2012, the channel suspended the first season's second episode, during which Youssef made fun of both famous CBC presenters as well as then-president Mohamed Morsi. Youssef later broadcasted the episode on YouTube.

A host of legal complaints were filed against Youssef following the third season's premier last Friday.  

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