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Egypt: Satirist Bassem Youssef's Show Censored following Lawsuits

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.

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]:

“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:

“I repaired the satellite receiver especially for this [show]“

Blogger Mostafa Hussein notes:

“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:

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:

So you challenge the USA and yet you're afraid of Bassem? What a weird world!

Others link to channel to AL Sissi:

“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.

A fake “Al Bernameg” account declared that the episode would be available soon and asked for massive retweets.

But there could be repercussions:

“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.

Some pointed out that it's the same old game, played again and again.

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.

… and actually, other channels such as Al Nahar, showed solidarity with CBC.

Naguib Sawiris, Egypt's billionaire and Bassem Youssef's former employer on ONTV, seems unimpressed:

“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.

“If your regime isn't strong enough to take a joke, then you don't actually have a regime”

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:

Ban Laughter.. a cartoon by Egyptian Doaa Al Adl in solidarity with Youssef

Forbid Laughter.. a cartoon by Egyptian Doaa Al Adl in solidarity with Youssef

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