Egyptian Comedian Accused of Insulting Islam Takes a Break From TV

Bassem Youssef. Credit: Nilesports

Comedian Bassem Youssef, who hosts a news satire program similar to Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show,” in his native Egypt, has suspended — if only temporarily — production of his broadcast after being accused of insulting Islam.

Youssef’s popular program frequently criticizes Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, angering supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood leader, Al Aribya reports.

An Egyptian court subsequently had Youssef arrested on charges (which were ultimately dropped) he insulted Islam and the president.

“If the regime thinks I am a clown, why are they scared?” Youssef asked.

“If my program brings down a regime, then this means it was a weak regime that did not deserve to stay in place. I never heard of a program that brought down a regime,” he said.

Youssef has denied reports that the Muslim Brotherhood is behind his decision to take a hiatus from filming for several weeks, claiming he is simply trying to give his staff a much needed break.

“We’ve been working for nine months now… it is a chance for us to get a break… and I will be traveling to America for a reason that I will announce in the next episode,” he told Al Aribya.

Youssef did confirm, however, reports that one of his producers “belongs to a family that is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.”

“Yes, that is right,” Youssef said of his friend of 13 years. He added that the producer “does not interfere” in creative content.

“We did not revolt against a regime that suppresses freedoms to replace it with a regime that [always reminds] us of the [alleged] freedom it gives,” Youssef told Al Aribya, adding that Morsi made the correct decision when he dropped charges against the entertainer.

Youssef also said that in the event his program is ever taken off the air, he will broadcast his comedy on YouTube.

Below is a CBS interview with the Egyptian satirist: