Bassem Youssef’s supporters see YouTube as free outlet for satire

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Some of supporters of Egypt’s popular satirist Bassem Youssef are considering YouTube as another free outlet for him to show the world his funny side, after his television show was suspended for mocking the military establishment on Friday.

The private CBC channel said it has suspended Youssef’s “El-Bernameg,” or “The Program” in Arabic because the satirist did not follow editorial policies. The show was suspended just minutes before it was due to go on air Friday night.


Mahmoud Badr, head of Tamarod, the rebel social movement behind the June 30 campaign against former President Mohammad Mursi, said on his Facebook account early Saturday that “if you banned Bassem’s show on TV, how are you going to stop him on YouTube. He can do an episode on the street, and we will watch him.”

Badr added: “With Bassem Youssef, with free media.”

Another televised comedian, Ahmed Hilmi, a judge on the popular “Arabs Got Talent” show, wrote on his Twitter account saying: “[A] regime that fears a media person and works to stop him, proves that it is a failed regime and knows it has failed.”

“We went for a revolution, we thought there [was] going to be freedom, but everything now is the opposite,” he added.

He also highlighted that “there is YouTube” for Youssef to exercise his freedom of expression.

“Well, at least Bassem Youssef still has YouTube. This should be interesting,” a tweep responded, while another said: “futile to attempt to ban a massively popular show when it can easily be uploaded on YouTube.”

Al-Ahram Online website reported that the show’s producers were uploading the banned episode. However, a search of YouTube, as of Saturday morning, yields only Youssef’s previous episode on the results page.

His supporters have denounced the banning of the show.

Mohammed ElBaradei, former vice president and one of the main liberal figures that worked to oust Mursi, said on Twitter Friday: “Freedom of expression is the most important one but if it is exclusively bestowed on how we agree with, then it is a hollow motto.”

“Courage is to defend [freedom of expression], and not to suppress it,” he added.

Meanwhile, Khalid Ali, another of 2012’s presidential candidates, aired his views on Twitter.

“Suppression doesn’t kill a thought but makes is perpetual.”

The military establishment has not made any public statement pertaining to Youssef, who left Egypt for the UAE on Friday. It is not clear why he left to the Gulf state.

Youssef’s previous episode, his comeback after an extended summer hiatus, derided the military fever now gripping Egypt and poked fun at the country’s military chief, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

The media advisor for Egypt’s presidency said in a statement that the country’s leadership “respects freedom of expression,” after Youssef’s show failed to go to air.

“The presidency respects freedom of expression” and stopping any program is an “internal decision,” Ahmed al-Maslamani told the ONTV channel.

A negative reaction to Youssef

Egyptian comedian Adel Imam said he personally phoned Youssef to relay his disapproval of the show, al-Ahram Online reported Saturday.

According to Imam, he told Youssef to “leave national symbols alone.”

He added: “With all due honesty, I couldn’t believe that people have finally found a national symbol [Sisi] whom they could follow. We shouldn’t ridicule such symbol.”

Murtadha Mansour, a former presidential candidate from the National Party of Egypt, claimed that he was the reason Mohammad al-Amin, head of the CBC channel, suspended Youssef’s show.

“I have talked with Mohammed al-Amin and I told him that it is necessary for this program to be stopped after ridiculing Sisi and [Egypt’s interim President] Adly Mansour… in a not so appropriate a manner,” Mansour told Faraeen Channel in an interview.

“I told Amin that Bassem Youssef used to criticize Mursi because he was trivial but he cannot do the same with Sisi,” he said.

“Sisi is a symbol of the Egyptian army. If he left the army to run for presidency, then we can criticize him,” he concluded.

While Youssef was recording the latest episode on Wednesday, his critics staged a protest outside the theater, the Associated Press reported. The critics scuffled with his supporters and riot police dispersed the crowd.

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