Egypt’s top political satirist back on air
Bassem Youssef’s show returns to the screen and pokes fun at pro-military sentiment in the country.
Egypt’s most prominent television satirist, Bassem Youssef, known for his fierce jabs at ousted president Mohamed Morsi, has returned to the airwaves following a summer break, poking fun at the frenzy surrounding Egypt’s defence minister that has gripped the nation in recent months.
On Friday the comedian, along with his team of entertainers, poked fun at all camps – Mubarak loyalists, Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood supporters who have staged frequent protests since July, and General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s fans.
Early in the show, Youssef and others on the programme broke into a comic song-and-dance routine to the tune of the nursery rhyme “Old MacDonald Had a Farm”, which he said aimed to explain to Egypt’s children the country’s political events this summer.
“After the revolution we got a president who thought we would be duped,” they sang in rhyme in Arabic, with the sound of drum beats in the background. “His Renaissance programme was a terrible idea … so the people decided to revolt.”
Referring to the ruler of the country, Youssef later jovially displayed a projected image of Sisi before quickly swapping it with the image of the interim president, Adly Mansour.
He poked extensive fun at the adulation of Sisi’s fans, though he held back from criticising the general himself.
“Sisi has turned into… chocolate!” said Youssef, joking about the chocolate bars that have been moulded to the defence minister’s likeness in confectionary stores.
“I am not with the [Islamists], who attacked us and called us heretics… and publicly called for our imprisonment,” said Youssef.
Morsi’s prosecutor-general at one point issued an arrest warrant for Youssef, over allegations that he insulted Morsi and Islam, but he was later released on bail.
“At the same time, I am not with hypocrisy, deification of individuals and creation of Pharoahs,” Youssef said. “We are afraid that fascism in the name of religion gets replaced with fascism in the name of nationalism.”
Facebook and other social networking sites were rife with views both supportive and critical of the episode, with some commentators saying both camps were taking it too seriously.
Youssef had not been on air since July, when Sisi, the head of the armed forces, ousted Morsi in response to nationwide protests against his rule, fuelling speculation the show had been halted for fear of reprisals from the new government.
Youssef rose to fame with a satirical online show after the uprising that swept Hosni Mubarak from power in 2011.
A medical doctor by profession, he regularly skewers the country’s ruling party on his wildly popular weekly programme “Al-Bernameg” (The Show), which is modelled on popular American comedian Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show.