Egyptian TV comic Bassem Youssef, known as the Jon Stewart of the Arab world, is preparing to go back on air after his show, “El-Bernameg (“The Program” in Arabic) was pulled in November last year by private broadcaster CBC for mocking Egypt’s military-backed government.
Interviewed by the Associated Press in Cairo, Youssef said he and his team are ready to bring his hugely popular show back on the air within a week on another TV outlet.
Youssef said many Egyptian broadcasters are eager to air “The Program,” which is inspired by “The Daily Show” and has been poking caustic fun at those in power in Egypt since shortly after the 2011 Egyptian revolution. But he declined to go into more specifics as to what outlet he may resurface on.
CBC pulled “The Program” in November, shortly after its first episode aired under the country’s interim military-backed government. In that episode Youssef had warned “that fascism in the name of religion will be replaced by fascism in the name of patriotism and national security” – a clear criticism of the current Egyptian government’s policies. The broadcaster at the time read out a statement claiming that Youssef’s production team was involved in a dispute with the channel’s board over contractual and content issues.
Youssef had previously been briefly arrested under the now ousted government of the country’s former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, before returning on the air. He has been publicly praised by Jon Stewart who has appeared on “The Program.”
“We never self-censor,” Youssef told The Associated Press in an interview from his Cairo studio on Wednesday. “It’s not what we say about the government or don’t say, it is how to make people laugh and have a good time. In times like these this is a huge challenge.”