Bassem Youssef is the most popular Egyptian television political satirist whose show was suspended in October 2013 by private broadcaster CBC. Youssef is dubbed as the “Egypt Jon Stewart.” The reason for his show’s Al Bernameg withdrawal, as described by CBC, is the violation of the editorial policy and contractual regulations. He was also attacked for the lack of decency shown in the script content as well as insulting public figures and national icons of the state, particularly Minister of Defense Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
However, the strictures and harsh criticism did not stop him from carrying on his successful career. He has recently made an agreement to join MBC Egypt and it was confirmed that the first episode of Al Bernameg will be broadcasted on Friday Feb. 7 on MBC Egypt channel.
Not only is Youssef a charismatic, funny, and prominent figure, but he introduces, teaches and enlightens viewers about the concept of disagreement. He stresses the notion of dissent and the freedom of expression that the Egyptians had lost long ago, due to the former authoritarian dictatorship run by Mubarak’s regime and the religious, fascist rule of Muslim Brotherhood represented by ousted former president Muhamad Morsi.
Youssef’s show Al Bernameg aims at mocking and criticizing public and political figures by pointing to their speeches and interviews, adding a satiric flavor to the current political events and eventually incorporating the hosting of public figures and celebrities as well as allowing a new singer or band to perform on stage at the very end of the show. Youssef started his show after January Revolution in 2011.
Before becoming a comedian, he was a cardiac surgeon. Inspired by Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, he decided to use his laundry room and a camera to create a program which he uploaded on YouTube, calling it B+. B+ The channel was viewed by five million people in the first three months. This was a turning point in Youssef’s life. He started being loved and supported by Egyptians who were looking back in anger at Mubarak’s regime and how the country suffered from the dishonesty and hypocrisy of pro-regime media. After his recognizable success, he received an offer from ONTV channel to broadcast a program, and it was named The Program in Arabic Al Bernameg. This was his first appearance on TV.
Millions of Egyptians eagerly waited to watch Al Bernameg every Friday. His show was deemed the most viewed on TV. Surprisingly, streets were shown empty on a Friday night while the program aired. A minimum of 15 minutes of ads were shown during the break times of the show. Thus, his show became a great source of investment. One of his dreams came true in June 2012, when Jon Stewart invited him to The Daily Show for an interview. Later on, when Youssef joined CBC, he invited Jon Stewart to Al Bernameg for an interview and a hilarious performance took place. In 2013, he was described by Time Magazine as one of the “hundred most influential people in the world.”
Youssef is simply defined as a person with principles, fighting for a cause and at the same time drawing smiles on people’s faces. He has transformed for being a mere human being to someone that captures a great part of the Egyptian dream, as the Egypt Jon Stewart.
By Mona Salman
Al Arabiya News