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Bassem Youssef is Back - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A picture taken on January 22, 2013 shows Egyptians walking past posters of Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef outside a theatre in Cairo. (AFP)

A picture taken on January 22, 2013, shows Egyptians walking past posters of Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef outside a theater in Cairo. (AFP)

London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef is set to return to our screens on Friday after a 100-day hiatus. Youssef’s popular show, Al-Barnameg, which takes a satirical look at Egyptian politics, returns after the country has experienced huge political and social upheavals, including the ouster of former president Mohamed Mursi and the rise of a new military-backed government.

“Sorry to disappoint fans of the rumor mill—we will be back on the same channel on Friday, October 25,” Youssef tweeted earlier this month.

The Egyptian satirist has vowed to pull no punches on his return, with many Egyptians and Arabs looking forward to the satirist’s take on the new military-backed interim government.

In an op-ed published by the privately owned El-Shorouk newspaper, Youssef said he expects the interim government’s supporters to be no more tolerant of his antics than Mursi’s supporters.

“They won’t stand a word against Sisi,’ Youssef wrote in reference to Egypt’s popular defense minister, whom many tip as a future president.

“Lovers of Sisi are using the same terms used by Mursi lovers,” he added.

Former Egyptian prosecutor-general Talaat Abdullah issued a warrant for Youssef’s arrest in March, for insulting both Islam and President Mursi. The popular comic turned himself in for questioning, and was ultimately released on bail of EGP 15,000 (USD 2,200) after being questioned for a period of three hours.

Youssef has not discounted the possibility of his being summoned by the current prosecutor-general, Hisham Barakat, over possible complaints issued by supporters of the current government.

“They [critics] keep saying, ‘Be objective, be impartial,’ and you feel stunned at their definition of objectivity or impartiality. The truth is that this means, ‘Say what I want,’” Youssef said.

“There is no tolerance from the Muslim Brotherhood side or those who call themselves liberal. Everyone is looking for a pharaoh that suits him,” the Egyptian satirist wrote in his latest op-ed.

Bassem Youssef has often been described as the Egyptian Jon Stewart, although when Stewart appeared as a guest on Al-Barnameg earlier this year, the Egyptian satirist playfully introduced him as “the Bassem Youssef of America.”

Youssef and Stewart are known to be good friends, and the US satirist leaped to his Egyptian counterpart’s defense following Youssef’s arrest. Describing Youssef as a “friend” and “brother,” Stewart criticized the Mursi regime for being unable to take a joke.

In a segment on The Daily Show at the time, Stewart quipped: “Making fun of the president’s hats and less-than-fluent English? That was my entire career for eight years.”

Bassem Youssef was awarded the International Peace Freedom Award for 2013 by the Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ).

The CPJ said: “Youssef has taken on political conservatives and liberals alike, in a quest to inform and shatter stereotypes. Following a long tradition of satire that blends comedy with hard news, Youssef uses sharp humor to report on and critique government failures to improve the economy, public services, and safety, and its efforts to suppress opinion—whether in the name of religion under Mursi or in the name of security under the current military-backed government.”