Network claims Egypt’s “The Daily Show” purposely jammed
The network that airs “Al Bernameg,” or “the Program” in English, claims that its signal was jammed during the airing of the show on Friday in an apparent attempt of censorship. The show is hosted by Bassem Youssef, who is often dubbed as “Egypt’s Jon Stewart.” Much like the format of The Daily Show, Youssef uses humor and satire to criticize his country’s leaders and often exposes what he believes to be their hypocrisy.
Youssef has gotten into legal trouble in the past for what he has said on his show. In January 2013, then president Mohammed Morsi’s office stated that he was under investigation for making comments that were “circulating false news likely to disturb public peace and public security.” On March 30th of that year, an arrest warrant was issued for Youssef on the charges of insulting Islam and President Morsi. He turned himself in, and was questioned by authorities before posting bail.
Al Bernameg is extremely popular on YouTube. It is currently aired by the Saudi Arabian network Middle East Broadcasting Center. It was aired by an Egyptian network last year, but the contract was cancelled and production put on hold after Youssef again directly criticized the Morsi administration. Middle East Broadcasting Center’s spokesman, Mazen Hayek, claimed that the jamming is “a form of terrorism” in an interview with the Associated Press. The network determined that the show was jammed by two satellite transmitters in Cairo, but is not yet certain who was behind it.
The incident has again raised the topic of media freedom and democracy in Egypt after the ousting of long-time president Hosni Mubarak. During the 2011 Middle Eastern protests known as the Arab Spring, there were other cases of news channels being jammed within Egypt. President Mubarak eventually stepped down from office during protests in Egypt. He will be in court on March 22 to face charges of inciting the killings of peaceful protesters during the revolution.
Yousef has appeared on The Daily Show, and in June 2013 Jon Stewart made an appearance on Al Bernameg while he was in Egypt directing a movie. Stewart was brought onto the stage with a black bag over his head by two suited men while Darth Vader’s theme song was played. They discussed Stewart’s film, Youssef’s use of satire as political commentary, and joked about Cairo’s traffic problems and how Stewart was adjusting to being in the Middle East.
A link to the June 21, 2013 episode is below. It is mostly English with Arabic subtitles.