Just a week after the airing of the first episode of the third season of his popular show “Al Bernameg” [The Programme], Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef has seen his show taken off from air. The decision was made a few minutes before the broadcast of the second episode last night, sparking outrage among netizens.
Bassem youssef show cancelled tonight due to public outrage at last show and not sticking to CBC's editorial values #Egypt
— Claire Read (@clear_red) November 1, 2013
The news was greeted with disbelief, irony and vehement critics to the perceived censorship from the army, and to what some called self-censorship.
When censorship happens, people come up with ways to circumvent blocks. Egyptian blogger Alaa Abd El Fattah shares a solution [ar]:
عايزين الحلقة على يوتيوب يا باسم @DrBassemYoussef
— Alaa Abd El Fattah (@alaa) November 1, 2013
“Bassem, I want the episode on YouTube”
In fact, Youssef rose to fame after starting his programme online, and broadcasting its episodes on YouTube.
Abd El Fattah adds:
دانا صلحت الدش مخصوص
— Alaa Abd El Fattah (@alaa) November 1, 2013
“I repaired the satellite receiver especially for this [show]”
Blogger Mostafa Hussein notes:
ده باسم هو اللي مصبرنا ع الحظر :(
— Mostafa Hussein (@moftasa) November 1, 2013
“Bassem was the reason we could endure the curfew”
A nightly curfew has been imposed on Egypt since the ousting of Muslim Brotherhood president Mohammed Morsi in early July.
Sarah Carr is angry:
Do these mothafuckers not know about the existence of Youtube?
— أبو كار (@Sarahcarr) November 1, 2013
And a Twitter campaign against CBC, the channel which hosted the show, has also started, trending on #Delete_cbc.
The obvious suspect behind taking the show off the air was the army, and it's head General Abdelfattah Al Sissi, who would want to ban the show due to last week's sarcastic comments on the regime and it's “fans.”
Hala Gamal tweets:
بقي تتحدي أمريكا وتخاف من باسم ؟؟؟؟ عجبت لك يا زمن !!!
— hala galal (@halagalal66) November 1, 2013
So you challenge the USA and yet you're afraid of Bassem? What a weird world!
Others link to channel to AL Sissi:
قلنا من زمان، اسمها سي بي سيسي @CBC_EGY
— Amr Gharbeia (@gharbeia) November 1, 2013
“We've said it long ago: It's CCBC” – a play on words between CC and Al Sissi”
The TV channel management has issued a statement on why they suspended the show. The CBC said the administration was surprised to find the content of last night's episode was in “violation of what had been agreed upon.”
Rumours started regarding whether the episode would be available on YouTube or not.
— برنامج البرنامج (@albrnameg) November 1, 2013
A fake “Al Bernameg” account declared that the episode would be available soon and asked for massive retweets.
But there could be repercussions:
السي بي سي بتهدد باسم يوسف باتخاذ إجراءات قانونية لاحتكارها حق العرض في العقد لمنع رفع الحلقة ع اليوتيوب
— Mohamed Waked (@mohamedwaked) November 1, 2013
“CBC is threatening Bassem Youssef with lawsuits if there are any infringements on the broadcasting contract in case he decides to upload the episode on YouTube”
People who attended the show, on Wedensday (it's not live) said that there weren't any explicit attacks against the army or Al Sissi. The sarcasm was pointed at CBC and it's management of the crisis related to the first episode.
People who attended taping of #bassemyousef show on Wed say no mention of Sisi at all, episode mocks CBC post show statement & other media
— Carina Kamel (@Carina_bn) November 1, 2013
1- Just spoke to friend who attended taping Bassem Youssef's latest episode, says show barely mentioned Sisi or government, bashed media&CBC
— Bassem Sabry باسم (@Bassem_Sabry) November 1, 2013
Some pointed out that it's the same old game, played again and again.
To be fair Bassem Youssef's 2nd episode under Morsi didn't air either #Egypt
— Gert Van Langendonck (@gert_lang_) November 1, 2013
On Facebook, Hannah Aboualghar writes:
الأسبوع الجاى تلاقوا باسم طالع عادى بعد ما ستعمل فيلم ان السيسى تدخل و منع وقف البرنامج،ما هو الفيلم ده شوفناه قبل كده مع ابراهيم عيسى ايام مبارك، عموما أليوتيوب موجود و القناوات اللى بتبث من الخارج موجوده و محدش حيعرف يسكت حد. تسلم الايادى اللى قفلت برنامج ساخر خوفا من قوة الكلمة
“Next week we'll find Bassem Youssef back on air as if nothing happened after we discover that Al Sissi had intervened to stop the censorship. We've watched this movie before. We've seen it with Ibrahim Issa during Mubarak's reign. Anyway, YouTube is here as well as international channels and no one will manage to silence us. Blessed are those hands the shut a sarcastic programme because they're afraid of words!”
The debate on media freedom, and to what extent can such a decision alter it's fragile existence in Egypt, was lively.
Honestly, if Basem had twerked Haifa Wehbe on his show tonight he wouldn't have gotten this much PR. CBC need a crash course on management.
— Rawah روعه (@RawahBadrawi) November 1, 2013
The real test for freedom in #Egypt with Bassem Youssef is not whether one channel fires him, but whether another hires him.
— salamamoussa (@salamamoussa) November 1, 2013
… and actually, other channels such as Al Nahar, showed solidarity with CBC.
— Amãdö (@OffTheHookPain) November 1, 2013
Naguib Sawiris, Egypt's billionaire and Bassem Youssef's former employer on ONTV, seems unimpressed:
يعنى إيه أهم…محاكمة مرسى أو منع حلقة باسم يوسف و لا ” هنبنى مصر إزاى؟ و نقضى على الفقر و نبقى دولة قوية تعتمد على نفسها و تصون كرامتها ؟
— Naguib Sawiris (@NaguibSawiris) November 2, 2013
“What's more important? Morsi's trial, a banned episode of Bassem Youssef's show, or how are we going to rebuild Egypt? How are we going to eradicate poverty and become a strong, self-relying and respected country?
If there was no hope from local media, maybe international ones would react.
— حازم بركات (@7azem122) November 1, 2013
“If your regime isn't strong enough to take a joke, then you don't actually have a regime”
Waiting to hear from Jon Stewart now. @bassemyoussef
— Hoda Abdel-Hamid (@HodaAH) November 1, 2013
The irony of it all: Censoring humor and sarcasm in a country which has built a reputation on it's sharp sense of humour. Cartoonist Doaa Al Adl shares this caricature on the censorship of Youssef's show:
— Pan-Arabia Enquirer (@arabiaenquirer) November 1, 2013