Talk shows have proliferated in Egypt since the beginning of the January 25 revolution nearly two years ago. One host has become particularly famous, to the point of being described as the “Jon Stewart of the Arab world.” Bassem Youssef was even a guest on “The Daily Show” itself in June, and recently CNN anchor Christiane Amanpour interviewed him about freedom of speech in Egypt.
In the aftermath of the passing of Egypt’s new constitution, it seems Youssef himself may become an example of the ultimate test of that very freedom.
Since Youssef — a 38-year-old heart surgeon — hit the airwaves in 2011, he’s received a great deal of criticism for his satirical style, expressed in a quintessentially Egyptian idiom and flair. No one, it seems, escapes his sharp tongue — if they are in the political arena or have affected public discourse, then they’re fair game. The more significant their influence and impact, the more they can expect to be lampooned on Youssef’s weekly program — called, simply, “The Program.”