Demystifying Political and Religious Power

In this internet era his videos spread like wildfire, and his parodies of the Egyptian president and lampooning of the Islamists' edicts have made him the champion of the liberals and, more broadly, of an Arab world badly in need of political, social and cultural emancipation - Benjamin Barthe

interrogation by Egypt’s Prosecutor General’s Office - See more at:
Bassem Youssef is a cardiac surgeon in Egypt whose proposed remedy for some of the country’s ills is to scrutinise ‘the failings of the Islamists' which 'has made him a leading opponent of President Mohamed Morsi and an enemy of the Muslim Brotherhood.’ Through his satirical show El Bernameg (the Programme) the artist has shot to prominence. Carried on the sails of the revolt against Mubarak two years ago he has been called the Jon Stewart of Egypt.

I'm a clown, my work consists of poking fun at power. Laughter destroys fear and opens the doors of the imagination. It is the strongest weapon for deconstructing an oppressive system. I attack those in power. They have put themselves in that position. We are not trying to exclude them from the political field. We just want them to change and not think they are above us mortals.

Throughout Egypt he has become an icon for a generation said to want to ‘demystify political and religious power.’

But in what has been described as 'an escalation in an attempt to restrict space for critical expression'  the censors – as usual - were soon sniffing out his trail. One, an Islamist lawyer – no surprise there – in the rush to be offended made a complaint. It was alleged that Bassem Youssef insulted Islam and the country’s president Mohamed Morsi. The usual fare when the men of god are seeking excuses to either behead, lash or inflict some other abominable torture on people refusing to defer to them.He was arrested and interrogated before being released on bail.
nterrogation by Egypt’s Prosecutor General’s Office - See more at:
interrogation by Egypt’s Prosecutor General’s Office - See more at:
interrogation by Egypt’s Prosecutor General’s Office - See more at:

The BBC reported that:

Mr Youssef's case is also seen as the latest in a string of prosecution actions against opponents of the president and the movement that supports him, the Muslim Brotherhood.

AlJazeera in its observation stated:

The presenter has been a frequent target of legal petitions, most of them brought by lawyers who have accused him of "corrupting morals'' or violating "religious principles". He has faced several court cases in the past, also accusing him of insulting Morsi.

As the US satirist Jon Stewart with whom he has been favourably compared pointedly said:

Without Bassem and all those journalists and bloggers and brave protesters who took to Tahrir Square to voice dissent, you, President Morsi, would not have been in a position to repress them.

It is this crucial function of dissent, so vital to any vibrant and intellectually porous society seeking to ward off the shackling bridles of conservative and religious intolerance, that is under threat in Egypt.  Bassem Youssef is a breath of fresh air against the strangulation that is invariably a feature of censorship.

1 comment:

  1. Carrie was interviewed today on TV 3 at a protest in Dublin backing women's right to proper medical facilities during pregnancies. Some religious maniac from Ballymena began praying over her! The above censorhip is the type of thing we get if we let the mullahs and the maniacs get their way.