Egypt’s satirist Bassem Youssef lands Press Freedom Award

Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef received a Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists. (File photo: Reuters)

Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef last night accepted a Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), one of four media figures who “face imprisonment and other threats for exposing realities”.

The nonprofit organization’s annual awards ceremony recognizes journalists who work to defend press freedom despite facing attacks, threats, and risking their own freedom.

“Youssef has taken on political conservatives and liberals alike, in a quest to inform and shatter stereotypes,” the CPJ said on its website.

Ecuador’s Janet Hinostroza, Turkey’s Nedim Sener, and Vietnam’s Nguyen Van Hai also received the honorary award.

“At a time when information has become a global resource, these four journalists have defied censorship and persecution to bring us the news,” CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon said in a statement released by organization.

“We recognize their bravery, their commitment, and their refusal to be silenced,” he added.

The event took place at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City on Tuesday evening.

Youssef, a former cardiac surgeon, gained enormous popularity among Egyptians and Arab audiences through his satirical show “el-Bernameg” or “The Program”, which launched on YouTube.

He earned enormous public support during Egypt’s former Muslim Brotherhood-led government, which came to an end following massive uprisings that toppled Mohammad Mursi as president.

Through his satire and a large followership watching his weekly episodes, Youssef upset almost all political sides in Egypt, and had come under legal investigation for his newscast, earning him broad global recognition.

Youssef is often referred to as “Egypt’s Jon Stewart”, after the American political satirist. Jon Stewart made an appearance on “el-Bernameg”, showing support to his Middle Eastern colleague.

The weekly show had been broadcasting on Egyptian CBC channel, but was suspended just minutes before it was due to air in early November, after Youssef reportedly mocked Egypt’s military-led government.

The suspended episode was aired on YouTube, but no new episodes have been uploaded since. Youssef is a regular columnist in a number of Arabic and English media, including Al Arabiya News.

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