June 25, 2013 Special Dispatch No. 5343

Egyptian Satirist Bassem Youssef Blames Mursi, MB For Rising Polarization, Violence And Anti-Religious Feeling

June 25, 2013
Egypt | Special Dispatch No. 5343

In a recent article titled "We Are All Fascists," Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef explains why Egypt's liberals, who were known for their peaceful and moderate ways – even in the demonstrations against Hosni Mubarak – are increasingly turning to violence and intolerance. He argues that those responsible for this situation are none other than the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and Mursi himself. This, he says, is because MB has broken its promises to build a more tolerant and inclusive Egypt, and instead uses religion as a weapon to bludgeon its opponents. Moreover, he added, MB members and supporters systematically use violence and even torture against those who oppose them – leaving the liberals no choice but to "confront violence with violence and hatred with hatred."

Youssef, who hosts the popular television show Al-Barnameg, has recently faced government harassment and legal charges for defaming President Mohamed Mursi and Islam. This harassment sparked criticism from the US State Department and also attracted media attention, and comedian Jon Stewart even appeared in Cairo with Youssef as a token of solidarity (Youssef's show uses Stewart's The Daily Show as a model).[1]

Youssef's article appeared in the Egyptian paper Al-Shurouq.[2] The following is an English translation of it that was published on, the website of the Saudi-based TV network.[3]

"[When] You Have A Government That Has Adopted Violence As A Methodology [And] Torture As A Means... Do Not Be Surprised When The Rest of The People Turn Into Bloodthirsty Fascists"

"'He deserves it,' 'we taught them a lesson,' 'have anyone appear in the street, and he'll see what will happen to him.' These statements are from those who are supposed to be Egypt's liberals, or at least supporters of the civil state, after they beat up Islamist activists. This is not the first such incident.

The truth is, if you are a tourist visiting Egypt and witnessing this, you would ask yourself: 'What kind of intellectual people are these, and what kind of dialogue and democracy do they speak of when they resort to violence and brag about winning a street fight?'"

"But, dear tourist, have you forgotten what previously happened in this country, and what led the sweet, secular liberals to violence and fascism? We have a president who promised that a balanced constituent assembly would work on a constitution that everyone agrees on. We have a president who promised to be representative, but placed members of his Muslim Brotherhood in every position of power."

"We have a president and a party that broke all their promises, so the people have no choice but to take to the streets. Brotherhood members and supporters have also taken to the streets - beating up, torturing and besieging people - so their victims have no choice but to confront violence with violence and hatred with hatred.

"We were not all like this before, but when you have a group whose members practice violence and obstruct the judiciary and the law, and when you have a president who uses his authority to pardon terrorists and killers of intellectuals, then you have a government that has adopted violence as a methodology, torture as a means, and terrorists as an intimidating factor. So do not be surprised when the rest of the people turn into bloodthirsty fascists.

"The dangerous game that the Brotherhood has been playing since day one - exploiting religion for its own benefit - has not only backfired against it, but against a wide segment of religious people."

The Brotherhood's Policy Of "Exploiting Religion For Its Own Benefit Has Not Only Backfired Against It, But Against A Wide Segment Of Religious People"

"Mobs no longer differentiate between the Brotherhood and the wider religious community. Anger over the poor economic situation is being directed towards bearded men and fully-veiled women. This did not even happen during the worst days of Hosni Mubarak's rule, during which the public opposed the government's persecution of them.

"Have you seen what our religious, bearded president has done, dear tourist? He has caused the spread of hatred among people of all social and economic levels. This is the natural result of mixing politics with religion.

"Perhaps you can gain votes by presenting yourself as a uniting representative of religion. Maybe you can convince people that your rivals are against God. However, when you fail to keep your promises, anger will be unleashed, and it will burn you and those you have used to intimidate people. If you degrade religion by using it to win the dirty game of politics, do not be surprised when people degrade their behavior when dealing with religion.

"Good for you, Mr. President, and good for your group. You have succeeded in uniting people in hatred and racism. We have all become fascists."


[2] Al-Shurouq (Egypt), June 18, 2013.

[3], June 21, 2013. Subheads are added by MEMRI.

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