Bassem Youssef to haters: "If I express an opinion against yours, doesn’t mean I'm a traitor or agent"
His name was top of the most searched for celebrities in Arab countries, and he was also the region’s top trending person online in 2013.
His show, El Bernameg (The Programme), which was halted a few weeks ago, tops the list of the most searched TV shows in the Arab region, including his home country Egypt.
While the political situation in Egypt is still “simmering”, the popular figure believes that the main “problem in Egypt is that we don’t listen to each other and this, I believe, is the base of all our problems since January 25 until now”.
“If I express an opinion that is against yours, this doesn’t mean I am traitor or agent and I deserve the worst,” he added on the necessity of accepting the other’s opinion.
The Egyptian Popular TV satirist Bassem Yousuf, who is a cardiac surgeon by trade, received considerable attention after the country ousted two Presidents in two years.
But, Yousuf’s Al Bernameg was suspended after the season’s first episode after he criticised the military.
In March, Yousuf was summoned to the state prosecution office on charges of insulting Islam and the then President Mohammad Mursi.
Some people say that Yousuf was harsher in his criticism to the leadership of the now-outlawed Brotherhood than his criticism to the new leadership that came to power in July.
“The issue at the end is a matter of subjective and not objective, which means you will always find people taking a certain direction who think you are always criticise them more than the other side.
“The issue is not by kilos or weight, and is not that whatever I do here, I do there. The issue is that you will find people who always believe you have crossed the red lines.”
Asked about the fate of his television show, he replied, “no it was not stopped totally, and God willing we will be back,” Yousuf told Gulf News in a telephone interview from Cairo.
“We will exert everything we can to come back and be better than what we were,” he added. Asked about which television channel the programme might be aired, he replied; “We can’t talk about which channel we will be back on.”
The online version of the show has hundreds of thousands of followers.
“The nicest thing in online is that you don’t impose anything on the viewer. It is the viewer’s free will to watch what he or she likes, unlike the television which has a certain schedule,” he said.
However, his show is shown first on television before the digital version is offered.
“It was a difficult equation for us: to break many taboos and be, at the same time, acceptable to be on television and online. But, we did it,” he said.
Yousuf became known as Egypt’s Jon Stewart - the American political satirist and host of a The Daily Show, a satirical news programme. The weekly El Bernameg mirrored Stewart’s show.
“Undoubtedly, online and YouTube constitute a breathing [channel] to many Arab youths,” he said.
Yousuf said he will continue trying to express his opinion through the TV show, adding that “freedom of the speech is the top concern for people of Egypt… The whole idea is that the freedom of the speech is not [something] given, but rather it is something that is taken.”