Monday,24 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1142, 4 -10 April 2013
Monday,24 September, 2018
Issue 1142, 4 -10 April 2013

Ahram Weekly

Social media

The hero/villain Bassem Youssef

The arrest of popular TV satirist Bassem Youssef was the hottest topic on social networks this past week. While many people supported Youssef and believed that the Islamists were punishing him for being so critical of their policies, others said his show promoted hatred against Islamist President Mohamed Morsi by manipulating the facts.  

Rami Abdel-Salam said that during the time of ousted president Hosni Mubarak it would never happen to bring somebody like Youssef in for questioning by the prosecutor-general. Abdel-Salam added that the Muslim Brotherhood is trying to create its own style of systematic violations of freedom of speech by twisting the law.

Amira Mahmoud asked how is it that in the post-revolution era “we still have charges like insulting the president. Didn’t we revolt against Mubarak because of such restrictions? Why are the Islamists pushing the country to the edge?” Mahmoud asked. 

Yasser Mustafa, expected that jailing public figures like Youssef is a strong indication that the Muslim Brotherhood is losing control of the state’s institutions and that soon there will be another revolt against them “but stronger than the one which removed Mubarak”.

Hani Mahmoud believes that Youssef crossed the line several times since his programme was first aired. Among these violations is insulting public figures like the president and the prime minister and portraying them as “evil”.

“His show is manipulating public opinion and is directly insulting the president by using false facts,” Mahmoud said.

Hanan Mabrouk believes that Youssef and his team on his show Al-Bernameg (The Programme) are inciting hate among Egyptians and spreading sedition by presenting false facts and information.

Added Mabrouk, “Such shows are behind the unstoppable violence that we see every day in the streets.”


Women the victim of violence — then be blamed

Ursula Lindsey wrote in the Arabist blog a piece about women’s safety in the Middle East and North Africa region, noting that women in the countries that were visited by the Arab Spring are angry with their Islamists rulers.

“I attended a day-long meeting in Cairo yesterday, facilitated by the NGO Safer World, addressing women’s safety and political participation in Egypt, Yemen and Libya. The meeting was attended by activists as well as a few government representatives.

Although the situation varies quite a bit from one country to the other, there were many similarities. Also in all three countries, women’s groups are extremely frustrated and angry with the Islamist groups and parties that have come to power since the uprisings, who they describe as “dictatorial” and accuse of wanting to undo progress on women’s rights.

In Egypt, Islamist members of parliament and preachers have been saying grotesque things about women who were victims of gang rapes in Tahrir. It’s worth noting that it is not only Islamists who have misogynistic attitudes. The army also victimised and marginalised women. Non-Islamist party platforms do not include measures to curtail women’s rights, nonetheless they do very little to empower women within their ranks and tend to view women’s rights as a means to criticise the Brotherhood. Women were under-represented in all leadership positions and in politics under Mubarak, and they were the victims of sexual and political violence. These are not new phenomena.

That said, the Freedom and Justice Party’s record on women is abysmal. An article criminalising gender discrimination against women was removed from the Islamist-drafted constitution; Islamists have consistently opposed a quota for women in elections. The FJP also does not trust nor consult with the National Women’s Council or with any of the country’s well-regarded, vocal feminist organisations. Yes, some of these organisations are “elite”, some had contact with Suzanne Mubarak, but the vast majority of these organisations have been doing serious and ground-breaking work for decades; some activists put themselves in extraordinary personal danger to protect female protesters these days. Any initiative to discuss or address women’s rights that excludes the country’s seasoned activists and NGOs is bankrupt.

And any political party that is serious about women’s safety will speak out strongly and consistently against all violence against women — regardless of its political context — and will condemn any attempt to blame the victim. It will also support a quota, which experiences around the world have proven is one of the only ways to initiate large numbers of women into political life — and which was used in Tunisia, for example, ensuring a significant female representation in that country’s constituent assembly.”



“Hazem Abu Ismail has a non-zero chance of succeeding Morsi. He is a clown, but so was Gaddafi.” @Salama Moussa


“Our Islamist president, who’s shamefully silent on sexual assaults, wants Arab leaders to declare 2013 Year of the Arab Woman.”

@Mona Eltahawy


“Every day of the year, Morsi treats Egypt as if it was April Fools’ Day, except 1 April in which he takes a well-deserved break.”

@Amro Ali


“Touched by people’s support and media attention, however, there are many more activists being prosecuted that deserve to get that support.”

@Bassem Youssef


“I kind of expect the Egyptian authorities to come out and say the Bassem Youssef case was an April Fools’ joke. But it was on them in the end.”

@H. A. Hellyer


“The regime cannot take the Bassem Youssef programme that comes for two hours once a week.”

@The Big Pharaoh


“BassemYoussef doesn’t try taking the Islamists to court — he simply shows their bigotry to the world.”

@Hassan Hasan


“Arrest of ‘Egypt’s Jon Stewart’ shows ridicule can be most piercing criticism. Morsi should insist case is dropped.”

@Kenneth Roth


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