Bassem Youssef is an Egyptian satirist, frequently dubbed “the Jon Stewart of Egypt,” and is one of the most famous television stars the Arab world. His show "Al Bernameg” (“The Program”) is the Egyptian equivalent of “The Daily Show.”
Youssef's wildly popular program is now off the air, after the new Egyptian government led by military leader President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi made it abundantly clear it would not take kindly any jokes made at the regime’s expense. Youssef’s show started in the immediate aftermath of the Arab Spring uprising of 2011. Youssef, a cardiac surgeon by training, was treating the wounded in Tahrir Square when a friend encouraged him to create funny content on YouTube.
They developed the YouTube show because they sensed Egypt, a country long ruled by military strongmen, was hungry for an irreverent take on politics. Youssef made merciless fun of then-President Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, the winners of Egypt’s first free and fair election.
Jon Stewart was so impressed by the copycat Egyptian act he not only invited Youssef to appear on “The Daily Show,” he also appeared on “Al Bernameg.” Following an extended stay in the U.S. as a visiting fellow at Harvard’s Institute of Politics, Youssef is starring in The Democracy Handbook, a new digital series and television special satirizing politics and culture in the United States.