“So who will you be talking about now?" is the lead sentence in television satirist Bassem Youssef's op-ed article published on Tuesday in the privately-owned Al-Shorouk daily.
It is also a question he has been commonly asked since the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi, of the Muslim Brotherhood who was removed from his post by the military last July following popular protests demanding his resignation.
The article published today announces that he will be back to the screen on October 25 to present his famous show “Al-Bernameg” (the show), which airs on the satellite channel CBC and which is an evolution of an online show hosted on YouTube that attracted hundreds of thousands of viewers.
Before the show stopped in July, it was mostly critical of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups spreading sectarian discourse. With the Brotherhood gone, many argued that the show lost its raison d'etre.
But Youssef comes back to the screen to deny that.
In his op-ed, he explains that following the normal stoppages associated with Ramadan and Eid, the show couldn't continue because of the curfew and other challenges to shooting.
The intention is to bring the show back in full force, he writes. Youssef also writes that he has seen that people have been wondering if he will criticize the military and Armed Forces Chief Commander Abdel Fattah al-Sisi just as he used to criticize Morsi.
Youssef, who implies that the show will remain satirical regardless of who is in power, criticizes those who claim that he would not dare to mock Sisi and the military, which currently enjoy wide popular support. “Sisi supporters are using the same terms as Morsi supporters. They won't accept a word against Sisi and their defense of freedom and democracy will stop the moment the joke bothers them,” he says.
“I recognize that the times are harder now because the raw material that we got from religious programs or from Morsi has decreased. But also because the general mood has changed,” he continues.
Youssef won the 2013 Committee to Protect Journalists’ International Press Freedom Award. During Morsi’s rule, several cases were filed against him accusing him of insulting the president and religion.
Many observers have expressed concerns about freedom of expression and the extent to which it will be limited under the current control of the military. A number of religious channels were closed immediately following Morsi’s ouster.