Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef’s television program has been suspended until the end of May, to avoid influencing voters in the presidential elections, his broadcaster MBC Masr has said.
Youssef became one of the most watched Arab TV personalities during the one-year rule of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi. His weekly show Al Bernameg (The Program) made fun of Morsi and his supporters and became a hit throughout the Middle East via YouTube.
But Saudi-owned MBC Masr said it would keep Youssef off-air until after the presidential election on May 26-27 to “avoid influencing the Egyptian voters’ opinions and public opinion”, Agence France Presse reported.
The channel said in a statement it was “keen on respecting the electoral process” in Egypt.
Former army chief Abdel Fattah El Sisi, who is credited with leading the country’s drive to oust Morsi in July last year and crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, is the frontrunner to win the election but also has been targeted by Youssef’s banter, at a time when the interim regime has been arresting journalists and those who publicly comment on the country’s political situation.
Al Bernameg was previously axed by the Morsi government, which accused him of “threatening public security” and “insulting religion”.