A popular show by a daredevil Egyptian political satirist, Bassem Youssef, has canceled the airing of its latest, highly-anticipated episode after it came under fire for mocking the new military-backed government.
The Egyptian satirist has caused furor after joking about the
popularity of army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and interim
President Adly Mansour.
Earlier this week the Al-Ahram newspaper reported that the comedian, who is often referred to as Egypt's answer to US satirist Jon Stewart, is to be investigated by the current army-backed authorities. Youssef left for the Emirates Friday, according to AP.
The weekly program is pre-recorded. Only minutes before the "El-Bernameg" ("The Program" in Arabic) was to air on Friday night, the Egyptian channel CBC, which broadcast the previous episodes, informed that it would not be shown, allegedly because satirist, Bassem Youssef, and his producer violated editorial policies and financial commitments.
In his latest show, Youssef made fun of the mania for the military, which took off after a popularly backed coup ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi. Supporters of the military rushed to file legal complaints against the show. CBC, whose programming largely supported the coup, distanced itself from the program's content.
According to those who watched the pre-recorded episode that was to be aired Friday, Youssef used a large segment of the program to mock CBC, as well as its editorial policies and choice of soap operas.
Youssef's supporters, the June 30 Front group among them, have called for a boycott of the station, describing Youssef as a "dreamer of freedom".
Mohammed ElBaradei, who served briefly as vice president in the post-Morsi government, and prior to that was the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has also supported Youssef, decrying violation of freedom of expression.
"Freedom of expression is the mother of freedoms. If it is limited to those we agree with, it is an empty slogan. The courage is in defending it, not repressing," he wrote on his Twitter account.
It's not the first time Egypt's prosecutors have launched investigations into complaints about Youssef's show. The satirist was subjected to similar litigation when President Morsi was still in power. He was arrested under Morsi's government and appeared in court on charges of insulting the president and Islam; the charges were later dropped, however.
In fact, right after Youssef's first show, the channel said it was "keen on not using phrases and innuendos that may lead to mocking national sentiment or symbols of the Egyptian state." However, CBC also noted at the time that it was nevertheless committed to freedom of expression. From the very beginning, the channel, whose programming supported the coup, distanced itself from the program's content.
"I am not with the (Islamists), who attacked us and called us heretics ... and publicly called for our imprisonment," Youssef said on his recent Friday show.
"At the same time, I am not with hypocrisy, deification of individuals and creation of pharaohs. We are afraid that fascism in the name of religion gets replaced with fascism in the name of nationalism," he added.