Bassem Youssef is set to return to his show El Bernameg on Friday, 7 February with MBC Masr.
Youssef’s satirical show was known for taking every chance to criticise deposed president Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, but after a controversial episode featured jokes about General Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and openly called into question whether the protests of 30 June constituted a revolution or a coup d’etat, the second episode of his new season was never aired and Youssef was harshly criticised in the media.
After months of speculation and rumours of deals with several networks, Youssef is set to return on MBC Masr, a Saudi-owned channel based in Egypt, operating from the Egyptian Media Production City and under the jurisdiction of Egyptian law.
On Amr El Leithy’s talk show, Youssef did not hesitate to say he was against Al-Sisi’s nomination for president and that he did not think it was “good for the country” to involve the army in politics. He warned that people’s feelings for the army might change if its leadership was found lacking, likening it to many people’s disillusionment with religion after their experience with Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.
“All the other candidates are not running for president against Al-Sisi, they are running against the army and the Ministry of Defence and they cannot compete. The army should not be drawn into the games of politics,” Youssef said.
“We all know that people will not vote for Al-Sisi based on a political programme. I don’t think it’s good for the army or the country to be focused so much on the person. We are repeating the same mistake others made with Morsi, by making Al-Sisi into the only choice. But if something happens to Al-Sisi, would Egypt be lost? We made fun of them for making Morsi into a god and a prophet and making him into the only choice,” he added.
When asked whether he was against a president from a military background, Youssef answered that while examples of good presidents in other countries with military backgrounds exist, they usually have years of experience in political life and are nominated by a political party.
On whether he thought 30 June was a coup or a revolution, Youssef said: “I think what applies to 25 January applies to 30 June. At the end of the day, the revolution did not have its say and the army influenced the outcome.” He added that he did not think it was either label at this point in time.
Youssef dodged a question on whether Egypt was living in democratic times, and whether the country had freedom of press. He told El-Leithy: “Are you allowed to say what you want and I what I want? Then there is freedom, until proven otherwise. Are you satisfied? Everything’s fine. If my show continues to air, then everything is fine,” he added laughing.