Bassem Youssef, dubbed the “Jon Stewart of the Arab World,” was a practicing cardiothoracic surgeon when he became the creator and host of popular TV show “Al- Bernameg”— the first political satire show in the Middle East. Originally a five-minute show shot from Youssef’s laundry room and posted on YouTube days after protests in Tahir Square unseated Egypt’s ruling elite, “Al-Bernameg” became the most watched show across the region with 30 million viewers every week.
Throughout its three seasons Al-Bernameg remained controversial for its hilarious and bold criticism of the ruling powers. Accused of being “anti-Islam” and insulting the President, Youssef was arrested and interrogated before being released on bail. During its final season, the show achieved unprecedented ratings before Youssef announced its termination due to overwhelming political pressures on the show and the airing channel.
In 2013, Youssef was named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People and was awarded the International Press Freedom Award by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). In 2015 Youssef served as a resident fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He has been a reoccurring guest on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and recently hosted the 2015 International Emmy Awards. He is currently a fellow at Stanford University and now resides with his family in the United States.
Bassem Yossef is best known for his TV show “The Program” or “Al Bernameg” in Arabic. He started his show eight weeks after Mubarak stepped down. It all began in a room in his house, with one camera, where he criticized on film the behavior of the media during the revolution for spreading fear, lies and deceit. He became an instant YouTube sensation in Egypt, with more than 55 million views – phenomenal in Egypt and the Middle East - and nine episodes later, he was picked up by the network ONTV.
He is considered by many a game changer in media and politics, fighting the status quo, and has even become a target of attack for supporters of the dictatorship in Egypt. His program is unique, being a political satire – a genre which had not yet been established in this part of the world.
A doctor and cardiothoracic surgeon by profession, he graduated from Cairo University and is currently an attending surgeon. He has worked on cardiac transplantation and cardiac assist devices in the US and Berlin, but just as he campaigned to bring those concepts to Egypt, the revolution erupted. He was part of the medical efforts in makeshift clinics in Tahrir Square during the revolution.
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