Aswat Masriya (Cairo)

Egypt: Governments Threatened By TV Show Do Not Deserve to Continue - Local Satirist

Photo: Gigi Ibrahim/Flickr
Graffiti of Dr. Bassem Youssef.

Famous political satirist, Bassem Youssef, has said in a televised interview that he never heard of a television show toppling a government before.

"If my show brings down the regime, then it means that this is a fragile system that does not deserve to continue, I never heard of a television show bring down any ruling regime in the world," the famous television host said in the interview that will be broadcasted on Monday afternoon.

Youssef hosts a weekly evening political satire show "al-Bernameg" (The Program) that has been a major success since it premiered in November on CBC channel, which had faced threats of suspension for presenting the show.

The 39-years-old satirist added, "If the government considers me a clown, so why are they afraid of me?"

Youssef attributed Egypt's current crisis to the Islamist-led government's policies that "outcasts Egyptians inside and abroad."

The former cardiac surgeon described himself as a cynic, saying that his sarcasm comes from pessimism and that he always expects the worst.

The prosecution-general had issued an arrest warrant against Youssef for complaints filed against him for allegedly insulting the president, denigrating Islam and spreading false news with the aim of disrupting public order.

He was released on bail of L.E. 15,000, but investigations are expected to be resumed soon.

He described the charges pressed against him as ones that only exist in totalitarian regimes that use words such as "values of society" and "ousting the regime".

"We did not revolt against a regime that suppresses some freedoms to replace it with one that gives us so little of these freedoms," Youssef commented on the cases filed against him.

On the accusations that Youssef's show violates public taste, he said that he does not like generalization as 90 million Egyptians cannot all be described as conservatives.

"It is totally unacceptable that the post-revolution Egypt maintains laws that were written in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, such as insulting the president, such laws characterize fascist regimes worldwide," he added.

He stressed that his show is critical of Egypt and its deteriorating state, saying that his show is not cynical but rather sad.

Youssef had announced that his television show will stop for a two-weeks vacation, pointing out that this decision has nothing to do with pressure. He explained that everyone in the programme had been working for 9 months without breaks.

Youssef began his first satirical show in March 2011 on YouTube in response to Egypt's January uprising.

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