‘Al Bernameg’ is an Arabic satirical show that monitors media coverage in Egypt right since the early days of the Egyptian revolution from Jan 25, 2012. By now, the show has risen to become one of the most popular shows not only in Egypt but in the Arab world as well. It criticizes the misleading stances and flaws of the Egyptian leadership. Until a year ago, I was not familiar with the name of Bassem Youssef.
At least not until recently when a friend of mine told me about his weekly show. At first I thought it was just one more satirical program, like the many other Arabic comedy shows that desperately try to elicit some laughs.
However, after watching a couple of episodes, I knew I was wrong. In fact, these kind of shows help analyze the exact nature of some groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and where they want to drag us. The show is like playing a puzzle in which they depict for the benefit of the audiences parts of certain speeches or acts that were made or done but which simply are in contradiction to the ostensible claims of the Muslim Brotherhood.
This show explains the contradiction bearing in mind that there are Muslims Brothers all over the world, not only in the Arab world. They are there even in the Western world, except that they are sleeper cells. Every week, this show comes up with some surprises and one of the biggest was when wellknown US satire show host Jon Stewart featured as a guest star in Youssef’s show ‘Al Bernameg’, or simply, ‘The Program’.
Jon Stewart is in the Middle East to direct his film “Rosewater” and it was the right time for him to stop by at the show hosted by his friend and Egyptian counterpart Youssef. Stewart used a few Arabic words that he knew. For Stewart, it was the perfect show since he is a star in the world of satire. He even said satire is a law in US. Youssef was also a guest on Stewart’s “The Daily Show” in April this year to discuss his arrest. He was arrested for allegedly insulting Islam and Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi on his program. I think having such shows in the Arab world is like a whiff of fresh air.
I think Bassem Youssef is a great example of the kind of political satire which is not accepted or welcomed in many Arab countries. I think most countries would not welcome such shows because no regime likes to see its political figures being exposed to public criticism or becoming a butt of jokes. However, in this age of technology, no one can control such satire. The power of the media is huge and if anyone tries to do so, people would only feel more pressurized and we will only witness more suppression. Youssef’s show is great fun since it shows the reality of the Muslim Brotherhood in political life.
By Muna Al-Fuzai