|Bassem Youssef (host of satirical Egyptian news show "Al Bernameg")
youtube channel (autoplay warning!)
twitter (mostly in arabic, obv.)
Bassem Youssef’s supporters protest as Egyptian satirist is detained - video (autoplay)(Sunday 31 March 2013)
Egyptians protest in Cairo as satirist Bassem Youssef turns himself in at the office of the prosecutor general on Sunday. The prosecutor general, Talaat Abdallah, ordered his arrest after Youssef was reported to have made jokes at the expense of president Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. Egypt's best-known satirist hosts a weekly show called al-Bernameg which attracts over 30m viewers across the Middle East
2013 TIME 100 listing, written by Jon Stewart
Political TV satire Al Bernameg takes a break (April 20, 2013)
Cairo: Egypt’s widely popular political TV satire show will go off the air for three weeks, famed host Bassem Yousuf said late on Friday.
Cairo 360 Presents: The Bassem Youssef Show (Published On: 27/03/2011)
Yousuf, dubbed Egypt’s John Stewart, said in the last episode of his show Al Bernameg (The Programme) that the break was meant as a holiday for him and his team after an exhausting season.
The former heart surgeon was questioned last month and released on bail for allegedly insulting Islam and President Mohammad Mursi.
However, in Friday’s episode, Yousuf fired more barbs at Mursi...
The Time magazine has recently picked Yousuf, 39, among the world’s most influential 100 people.
“I am honoured to be on the list of The Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world,” he tweeted.
Yousuf left for Paris to attend an Arab cultural event and will be in New York later in the week for a Time gala, sources close to him said.
Paying tribute to Yousuf on the occasion, Stewart called the Egyptian satirist “my hero”.
“Bassem Yousuf does my job in Egypt. The only real difference between him and me is that he performs his satire in a country still testing the limits of its hard-earned freedom, where those who speak out against the powerful still have much to fear,” Stewart writes in the latest edition of Time.
Throughout the eighteen days of January 25th revolution, Egypt’s state media played a definitive role in spreading propaganda and misleading information about the revolution, to the point that public opinion was affected and violence was incited against pro-democracy demonstrators. Over the past two months, figures like Amr Moustafa, Talaat Zakaria, Affaf Shoeib and Tamer from Ghamra have become household names; not just for their ridiculous statements and outright lies; but also for the hilarity of their appearances.
Egypt's Jon Stewart? Al Bernameg is a political satire to rival The Daily Show(5 March 2013)
Enter Bassem Youssef, a 37-year-old heart surgeon from Cairo who launched his own YouTube Channel, B+ The Bassem Youssef Show; to take on the hypocrisy of Egypt's media in a political satire à-la Jon Stewart...
Like millions of Egyptians, Youssef was moved by the January 25th revolution and contributed by collecting donations, delivering blankets and even helping out at the Tahrir field hospital. Having witnessed the essence of the Tahrir spirit and the revolution, Youssef made it his personal mission to archive the media’s lies and hold them accountable.
‘I believe if you’re going to go on TV and say nonsense, you should pay for it,’ he said, ‘Especially if you’re an influential character and if what you’re saying is going to affect people. So if you’re going to get the perks of being a celebrity, you should pay for whatever damage you do to the people.’
"This programme is a direct result of what happened in the revolution," says the man himself, sitting in the theatre in downtown Cairo that was specially refurbished to house his show. In the room next door, a 30-strong research team trawls Egyptian media for footage to critique. "We are actually progressing. We are becoming more and more outspoken."
Jon Stewart is no Bassem Youssef: Unlike the "Daily Show" host, the Egyptian comedian actually challenges the political status quo
It is fashionable to describe Youssef as Egypt's Jon Stewart, after the liberal comedian who critiques American politics on The Daily Show. It's an epithet Youssef himself encourages. On the wall of his office, there even hangs a Stewart quotation, mounted on canvas: "I'm not going to censor myself to comfort your ignorance."
Yet this is more than a simple act of homage, and Youssef – despite his deference – isn't just another political satirist in Stewart's mould. In Egypt's nascent democracy, to poke fun at politicians is to do more than discomfort the ignorant. It's a quick way of getting investigated by the state. On Monday, for the second time in two months, Egypt's chief prosecutor placed Youssef under investigation for insulting Egypt's Islamist new president, Mohamed Morsi.
"I love Jon Stewart, and I will never shy from the fact that he is a role-model," says Youssef, flamboyant on camera, but surprisingly serious in person. "But the show is different in so many ways; we are at a different stage in building our country. Stewart is in a much more stable environment, a much more established democracy. Here, it is much harder to come up with the programme."
...Two years ago, no one had heard of Youssef. He was planning to leave Egypt for a hospital in the American midwest. Then Mubarak fell, and a space was created for previously unheard voices...Another new voice belonged to Youssef, who started making Stewart-style take-downs – known as the B+ Show – of Egyptian journalists and politicians from his laundry room in southern Cairo. He had no media experience..."Before the B+ show, there was absolutely no internet-dedicated show ever," he remembers. "In the Arab world, there were a few experiences. In Egypt, there was nothing." Now, there are too many YouTube presenters to count – a hugely pluralistic crop that includes Islamists who slag off Youssef himself. "If someone says we led the way, it's good to hear," he says. "Every single day, every single week, there's someone new with a video."
In a way, Youssef's fate is a bellwether for the state of free speech in post-2011 Egypt. On the one hand, he exists. He graduated to a TV show within months. Last year, he swapped channels on a big-money deal, and became the first Egyptian presenter with a regular live audience...Yet at the same time, Youssef's career – and that of many Egyptian journalists – is still fragile...
Two weeks ago Egypt’s public prosecutor ordered the arrest of comedian Bassem Youssef, host of the TV show Al-Bernameg, for “insulting Islam” and Egypt’s President Mohammad Morsi. Youssef’s name is rarely mentioned without reference to his admitted role model, the American comedian Jon Stewart, who recently defended Youssef on The Daily Show.
Since Youssef’s arrest, nearly every story about the incident labels the heart-surgeon-turned-TV-star as “Egypt’s Jon Stewart.” But Youssef — who continues to risk his freedom and career to ridicule Egypt’s political elite — has little in common with Stewart, a man who’s built a comedy empire on an unwarranted reputation for prophetic humor and moral integrity. And even while Youssef himself cites Stewart as an influence, the Egyptian humorist far outshines his American counterpart in his willingness to challenge political and social taboos.
Youssef’s arrest and his constant pairing with Stewart strengthen Stewart’s undeserved reputation as an important free speech icon. The incident also reinforces the impression that America both defends and inspires free speech abroad...
But in reality, the US cult of free speech rests upon shaky ground. American democracy functions thanks to a rigorous commitment to unfettered political criticism, we are told, yet the government exercises selective, self-aggrandizing alarm over free speech violations abroad. US officials feign outrage over speech restrictions in Cuba, Venezuela, and Iran while funding the militaries of closed dictatorships in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain. Meanwhile, officials brag about free speech at home, while the government vigorously pursues whistleblowers and attempts to censor websites that feature Wikileaks. Last week’s media-blackout during Exxon’s Keystone pipeline oil spill reveals how corporations still can exercise veto power over damaging news stories.
These deep contradictions fall beyond the purview of Stewart’s liberal critique; he loves to criticize the ridiculous cable news sideshow, but on complex free speech issues he tends to go silent. Stewart never once mocked the US government’s efforts to punish whistle-blower Bradley Manning for leaking evidence of misconduct in the “war on terror.” When the government finally arrested Manning for treason, The Daily Show aired a brief segment mocking Bradley supporters for singing silly protest songs.
Yet Jon Stewart seems to relish his role a free-speech champion — living, breathing proof of the vitality of American democracy. And as mainstream news channels devote more and more time to celebrity sex scandals, the continued success of The Daily Show does reinforce the impression of a healthy democracy, humbly bowing its head each night to Stewart’s boorish critique. Stewart himself regularly registers as one of the nation’s most trusted newsman.
Of course, Stewart’s recent defense of Youssef is commendable, and on the surface both men do appear to have much in common: two brave and uncouth grinning prophets, unearthing hypocrisy with the power of humor. But up close, Stewart is ineffectual and his reputation for truth-telling is a mirage. While taking potshots at obvious hypocrisy and conservative wingnuts, time after time Stewart hides behind his comedy and flubs opportunities to confront powerful people and level substantive critiques...
Obviously the biggest difference between The Daily Show and Al-Bernameg is that Stewart and his writers enjoy a much higher degree of media freedom in the US. But on a deeper level Youssef’s comedy works to challenge religious and political taboos; Stewart’s humor heaps the blame for society’s ills on a small group of irrational crazies.
...Youssef and Al-Bernameg employ Daily Show-style cutaway jokes and montage-media gags, but the show functions on a much higher ethical level. Youssef takes on the powerful and incurs real risks. Stewart postures like an iconoclast, but his comedy merely reinforces the status quo. Anytime Stewart is questioned pointedly about his political convictions, he retreats to his comedic roots, and denies any agenda.
Youssef — recently released on a $2,100 bail after five hours of interrogation — does not have that luxury.