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Opinion: Bassem Youssef, Egypt’s third Option - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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He has done it. Bassem Youssef has broken taboos and criticized those whom the people were about to make sacred, returning once again to spread his comedic spirit after four months of speculation about his mysterious absence.

The huge furore over Youssef and the support and criticism surrounding his return to the first episode of this season of Al-Bernameg two days ago reveal the emptiness that many people felt in his absence.

Egyptians are not the only ones who have experienced life in a divided society. Naturally, many other people have offered their feedback and comments on the return of the most important satirical figure in the Arab world today.

Yes, Youssef was sure to deliver his sharp criticism about what he describes as the Brotherhood’s fascism, the military’s fascism and the society’s division over these two options.

Mocking the media’s exaggeration and deification of certain figures, particularly of General Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, Youssef kept his sense of humor and brought forth his massive capability to make us laugh at ourselves and our bleak situation. Yet, he did not forget to warn us of the continued policy of silencing opposing voices, concluding the episode with weapons approaching him in an attempt to silence him.

But why should we care about what Bassem Youssef is saying or mocking?

Simply, because he has offered us a third option, one that encompasses the revolutions, countries and ideals.

It’s an option brought about by frustration and grief, the cries of which can still be heard on Twitter and Facebook. It’s an option which surfaced at the beginning of the Arab Spring and is the purest manifestation of the movement, before it was scattered by the fists of the Brotherhood and the Salafists, and smashed by the chants of the military.

Yes, this third option is a civil and democratic option, one which emerged outside of the umbrella of the Islamists and the military. It is an option which can be found in an article, a comment, a movie, an independent politician’s opinion or even in a small gathering that hasn’t yet reached the phase of becoming a balancing third power.

Bassem Youssef offers the best path towards this option and echoes it with the loudest voice. This is largely because it is a divided movement whose peaceful nature is incapable of confronting the fatwas inciting violence and accusations of terrorism and espionage. It is a non-centralized movement. Bassem Youssef’s lightness, ingenuity and modernity thus has come to present this option with an voice and an image to match.

Whoever followed up on the remarks made after last week’s episode of Al-Bernameg feels that people have been revived. I am not talking about those who are upset with the Brotherhood or with Sisi’s supporters or with the military. I am talking about those who kept silent during the past months feeling they were all alone.

An Egyptian woman wrote on Twitter: “They asked me if I am with the Brotherhood or with Sisi. I told them I am with Bassem Youssef.”

Today, however, it doesn’t seem that this third option will have solid ground in politics. Egypt is still divided between the military option and the Brotherhood option.

Whilst the street remains weak, there appears the resounding voice of Bassem Youssef.

Diana Moukalled

Diana Moukalled

Diana Moukalled is a prominent and well-respected TV journalist in the Arab world thanks to her phenomenal show Bil Ayn Al-Mojarada (By The Naked Eye), a series of documentaries on controversial areas and topics which airs on Lebanon's leading local and satelite channel, Future Television. Diana also is a veteran war correspondent, having covered both the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan, as well as the Israeli "Grapes of Wrath" massacre in southern Lebanon. Ms. Moukalled has gained worldwide recognition and was named one of the most influential women in a special feature that ran in Time Magazine in 2004.

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