Bassem Youssef, a former heart surgeon whose political satire TV program in Egypt was modeled after Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show,” said the Saudi channel that hosts the show will no longer air it.
Youssef, known as the "Jon Stewart of Egypt," denied that “al-Bernameg,” or “The Program,” was ending because of pressure from Egypt’s military, which was a frequent subject of the show’s satire.
“The present climate in Egypt is not suitable for a political satire program,” he said Monday, according to the BBC. “Stopping the program sends a much stronger message that if it continued. To those who are happy the show stopped: I tell them that the stopping of ‘Al-Bernameg’ is a victory for us.”
The show was regularly viewed by about 8.3 million people in Egypt, which originally aired on satellite channel CBC and was picked up by Saudi channel MBC Misr in February, was scheduled to return for a third season on Friday. “Al-Bernameg” was on a mandatory hiatus to ensure the show didn’t influence Egypt’s presidential election, Time magazine reported.
Youssef was inspired by Stewart to create his show, which got its start as a series of YouTube clips filmed in his Cairo apartment after the Egyptian revolution in 2011. The show was a thorn in the side to then-president Mohamed Morsi, and Youssef had faced charges of insulting Islam, but those charges were dropped when Morsi was ousted.
Youssef also ticked off Egypt's military establishment when he recently criticized General Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi, the former head of Egypt’s military, over chocolates that were named after al-Sisi. Youssef was charged with insulting the armed forces, the will of the Egyptian people and the “symbols” of Egypt, the BBC reported.