Egypt comedian back on air, mocking Sisi

2014-02-08 22:34
Bassem Youssef in Cairo. (Khaled Desouki, AFP)

Bassem Youssef in Cairo. (Khaled Desouki, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cairo - Egyptian comedian Bassem Youssef is back on air and mocking the personality cult surrounding Army Chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, after his previous show was axed amid fears of growing intolerance for dissent.

Youssef, nicknamed "the Egyptian Jon Stewart" after the American comedian he emulates, shot to fame with his constant jibes at Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

But in November, his show was pulled by the private CBC channel after he poked fun at the wildly popular army chief who overthrew Morsi in July, and at his supporters.

In the premiere of his new show The Programme on Friday night, aired by the private MBC Masr channel, Youssef gingerly broached the topic of Sisi, who is expected to win an upcoming presidential election.

"We're continuing. And we'll say whatever we want, and won't be scared of anyone," he said on the show, as the field marshal's silhouette appeared on screen.

"Some get upset when we mention some people, so it's best we don't bring them up... this isn't fear, it's respect," he said sarcastically.

As the broadcast progressed, Youssef kept trying to find ways to avoid mentioning Sisi, yet the field marshal still came up in a segment on cooking, and in a faux ad for "Sisi oil".

"Let's do songs," Youssef then said. "Foreign songs, not Arabic, which have nothing to do with us please!"

The show then cut to a Spanish song with the chorus "Si si, senor".

"Well, his popularity is huge," Youssef said. "You do know that in Spanish Sisi means "yes, yes".

But even indirect jokes annoyed some viewers who had gathered in a Cairo café to watch the show.

'Too soon for such satire'

"The episode is funny, but I don't like the criticism of Sisi," said an accountant who gave his name as Sameh.

Another member of the audience at the café said the time was not right for such satire.

"The country needs control, not ridicule of its rulers," said Ahmed Mohamed, a merchant.

Yet many still smiled at Youssef's jokes, even reluctantly.

A young man who gave his name as Abdel Rahman said Youssef's jokes exposed "how the people are manufacturing a pharaoh".

Millions adore Sisi for overthrowing Morsi, a democratically elected Islamist whose sole year in power was widely seen as incompetent and increasingly autocratic.

Since Morsi's removal, the military and police have waged a deadly crackdown on his Islamist protesters that has killed more than 1 400 people in street clashes, and imprisoned thousands of Islamists.

Morsi supporters continue to stage protests that often end in clashes with police, and militants have killed scores of policemen and soldiers in attacks.

Dissent, even of the secular leaning variety, is less tolerated than ever, say critics of the military-installed government.

"Bassem has shown he can be defiant and cross red lines. But the question is whether he can keep it up," said Ali Mahrous, an engineer watching the show at the café.

Sisi has not yet said he will be a candidate in the presidential election due by mid-April, and the military has said he would make a formal announcement to the people if he decides to stand.

His aides have said privately that he is expected to resign from the military soon and put forward his nomination.

Read more on:    abdel fattah al-sisi  |  egypt  |  north africa

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
1 comment
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go! - shop online today

Month End Madness Sale!

Save up to 60% on across a wide range of goods from books to electronics, DVDs and many more. Sale end 31 January 2015. Shop now!

Valentine’s Day gifts – 14 Feb!

Gifts to spoil him and her. While stocks last. Shop now!

Lego sale!

Buy 2 or more Lego toys and get 15% off. While stocks last. Shop now!

30% off fragrances

Get 30% off fragrances for him and her. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off All Textbooks

Save up to 30% off an extensive range of prescribed textbooks for all major universities and FET colleges. Shop Now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25


Spontaneity and bright ideas are emphasized today but there is a tendency to be too impulsive and you may want to keep a handle more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.