Egypt’s Bassem Youssef to host satirical show on U.S. politics
By Hend Kortam
CAIRO, Feb 3 (Aswat Masriya) – Egyptian heart surgeon turned award-winning television show host Bassem Youssef will be working with American media company Fusion, his office and the network announced Sunday.
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Fusion’s F-Comedy website said in a short message on Facebook, “we are SO excited to announce that the legendary Bassem You[s]sef, the “Egyptian Jon Stewart”, will be working with F-Comedy! We couldn’t be more excited.”
A statement emailed from Youssef’s office to Aswat Masriya said, the new show, “The Democracy Handbook”, will be aired over 10 episodes, each lasting five minutes. It will be aired in the first quarter of the year.
The show marks Youssef’s first television show in the U.S., where he caught attention over the past few years after he appeared on American comedian Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show and more recently, when he hosted the 43rd International Emmy Awards in New York in November. He was the first person from the Middle East to host the award show.
The new show will follow Youssef’s journey in the U.S. to understand democracy, and will carry this experience to the Middle East after the satirist discovered by time that “democracy was contrary to what he expected,” according to his office.
Bassem Youssef said he was “very excited” about discussing American politics through satire, adding that the show will address topics like guns, racism and Donald Trump. .
Before he attracted international standing, Youssef gained local popularity shortly after the January 2011 uprising which toppled former President Hosni Mubarak, starting off with Youtube episodes and later hosting a widely popular live audience show.
The satirist has been critical of consequent regimes that have taken charge in Egypt and his show has faced several hurdles, before eventually being suspended since June 2014. Despite the suspension, Youssef and his off-air show Albernameg reaped the silver medal at the 2015 New York Festivals, World’s Best TVs and Films.
His views gave him quick popularity when he critiqued the rule of president Mohamed Mursi, who was militarily ousted in July 2013 after mass protests against his rule. The satirist was not popular with Mursi’s regime and was questioned by prosecutors shortly before his ouster for insulting religion and the president.
The questioning triggered an outpouring of solidarity with Youssef but the power shift in which Mursi was removed was followed by a high level of polarisation in the country.
The voices of both ardent supporters and fervent critics of the political change were loud and Youssef’s quick wit, which once gave him his popularity, started to work against him as he criticised Egypt’s interim rule.