December 1, 2013 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1039

Uproar In Egypt Following Cancellation Of Bassem Youssef's Satirical TV Show

December 1, 2013 | By N. Shamni*
Egypt | Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 1039


Shortly before the June 30, 2013 events that led to the ouster of former president Muhammad Mursi, the popular satirical program "Al-Barnameg" ("The Show"), hosted by satirist and comic Bassem Youssef, took a break for the month of Ramadan. The program, which was extremely popular both in Egypt and outside it and had become a symbol of opposition to the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) regime, was meant to return following the break, but its return was delayed, primarily because of the country's security situation. Many Egyptians breathlessly awaited the program's return, eager to hear what Bassem Youssef had to say and wondering if his satirical barbs were reserved exclusively for Mursi and the MB, or would also be directed at Defense Minister Gen. 'Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sisi – the man responsible for Mursi's removal – and at the Egyptian Army and the current regime.[1]

When the program came back on the air, on October 25, 2013, Youssef unhesitatingly criticized the radical discourse used by both camps – the MB supporters and Al-Sisi's supporters – and also criticized the Al-Sisi personality cult that has developed in Egypt and expressed fears regarding Al-Sisi's deification.[2]

The show caused an uproar amongst many Egyptian sectors. Many were incensed by Youssef's criticism of the army and expressed their anger in demonstrations and calls to cancel his program, while others praised him for daring to address topics that are considered taboo in Egypt, and claimed that he had met their expectations by fearlessly speaking the truth, defending freedom of expression and making people laugh despite the difficulty involved.[3] Following the broadcast, the CBC television channel, which broadcasts the program, issued an announcement in which it expressed reservations about parts of the program and explained that it opposed the use of hints or expressions that offended the feelings of the Egyptian people or their leaders.[4]

A week later, minutes before the second episode was to air, the channel announced that it had decided to cancel the program due to technical and commercial difficulties with the program's creator and host, who had both insisted on acting contrary to the channel's policy.[5] On November 17, 2013, the production company responsible for Youssef's program announced that its contract with the CBC channel had been canceled.[6]

Following the cancellation of the second episode Bassem Youssef spent a week in the UAE, during which his weekly column in the daily Al-Shurouq did not appear and no new messages were posted on his Twitter account, which is usually quite active. However, on November 12, 2013, after remaining silent for nearly two weeks, Youssef published a new article in Al-Shurouq in which he indirectly referred to the affair by sharply criticizing regimes that accuse artists and creators of treason simply because "they refuse to be led like a herd".[7]

The decision to drop the program sparked a new wave of controversy in the Egyptian press, with some decrying the gagging of the media and others criticizing the amount of public attention the affair was receiving.

This article will review the October 25, 2013 episode of "Al-Barnameg," the Egyptian public's reactions to it, and the renewed public debate on freedom of expression sparked by the show's cancellation.

Youssef's Show Criticizes The Al-Sisi Personality Cult And The Regime's Policy Of Intimidation

The October 25, 2013 show was unusually pungent in its irony and criticism, and from the outset it was clear that Youssef was satirizing everybody and mocking the hyperbole used by both camps in Egypt – the MB camp as well as supporters of Al-Sisi and of the June 30 revolution. For example, responding to the June 30 events, Youssef ridiculed both sides for inflating the number of participants in their demonstrations (i.e., the claim of Mursi's spokeswoman that 45 million demonstrators had protested in Raba'a Al-'Adawiya Square, and the claim of presenters on independent channels who spoke of 70 million people protesting against the MB).

Later on Youssef criticized the Egyptian media's current preference for radical and one-dimensional discourse and its reiteration of the slogan "the MB = terror". He also pointed out that many in the media regard the June 30 revolution as a true revolution but, paradoxically, dismiss the January 25th revolution as an uprising led by foreign forces headed by the United States.

Youssef saved his boldest criticism for the Al-Sisi personality cult cultivated in the Egyptian media and on the Egyptian street, which finds expression in songs written in his honor and recited at special events and festivals, in chocolates and cakes decorated with his image, in jewelry bearing his name or image, etc. One of the show's sketches showed how anyone daring to utter the expression "military coup" and the name Al-Sisi in the same sentence is immediately beaten and silenced, because "you either love Al-Sisi or you are an enemy of the state." Additionally, the program claimed that, during the MB's rule, Mursi had been a figurehead president while the real president had been MB General Guide Muhammad Badi', whereas today 'Adly Mansour is the figurehead and the true ruler is Al-Sisi.

Youssef: "We Fear That Fascism In The Name Of Religion Will Now Turn Into Fascism In The Name Of Patriotism And National Security"

At the close of the program Bassem Youssef addressed the viewers in a more serious tone and said that, in the recent months, he had felt that the public wanted the show to return to the air and that people were interested to hear his opinion on the events in Egypt. He explained that the delay in the program's return had stemmed from the intolerant climate in the country, where people are unable to hear opinions different from their own, for "in a climate of fear there is no room for satire." Youssef clarified that he had no intention of declaring whom he supports, but only whom he does not support, namely those who had attempted to silence him and put him on trial (i.e. the MB); at the same time, he also rejects hypocrisy and deifying Al-Sisi or setting him up as a modern Pharaoh, and thereby repeating the mistakes of the past 30 years. Nor does he support the policy of intimidation, arbitrary arrests, accusations of treason and violence by the security apparatuses. At the conclusion of his program he said: "We fear that fascism in the name of religion will now turn into fascism in the name of patriotism and national security."

Below is a MEMRI-TV clip from Youssef's October 25 show:

Youssef's Opponents: He Is Harming The Military's Honor

The show triggered mixed reactions in the Egyptian public and press. Some expressed rage over his criticism of the military and its commanders and claimed that he had crossed a red line, or even called him a "fifth column" in the MB' service.[8] Several citizens, artists, and media personalities even filed complaints against him and the CBC channel demanding to take down the show for insulting President Mansour, Defense Minister Al-Sisi and Egypt's security.[9]

Military expert Sameh Seif Al-Yazal was shocked by the sexual innuendo regarding military commanders on the show, claiming that it constituted a direct attack on Al-Sisi, which serves the MB.[10] The military itself did not officially comment on the show, and its spokesman denied all reports citing comments that it has allegedly made.[11]

Furthermore, dozens of Al-Sisi supporters, activists on one of the campaigns urging him to run for president, held a protest outside the TV studios in which they burned pictures of Youssef and called: "Anyone who mocks his country's military, which defends him, is a traitor and a collaborator."[12]

Al-Sisi supporters burn picture of Youssef outside the TV studio (Al-Wafd, Egypt, October 30, 2013)

Youssef himself responded to the reactions on his Twitter account: "The country cannot deal with satire at this time. This was said yesterday and one year ago and two years ago. It was also accompanied by curses and accusations of treason [by those who cannot deal with satire]."

Youssef's tweet

Following the outrage sparked by the show, the CBC channel issued a statement that read: "CBC has been following the popular reactions to the recent episode of the show 'Al-Barnameg,' hosted by media personality Dr. Bassem Youssef, most of which were opposed to some of the episode's [content]. The CBC Network stresses that it will continue supporting the patriotic sentiment and the will of the Egyptian people, and will take care not to use any expression, allusion or image that could offend the Egyptian people or its leaders. At the same time, the channel stresses that it upholds the full freedom of the press and emphasizes the importance [of this freedom] for the Egyptian people's two revolutions, of January 25 and June 30."[13]

Al-Arabiya TV reported that during the taping of the shows subsequent episode, which ultimately did not air, Youssef addressed CBC's statement and said that it was very hypocritical because, in the past, the channel had aired content with sexual innuendo. He added: "My dream right now is to not go to prison... We do not create this show to mock a certain side in favor of the other. This is just an hour of laughter..."[14]

Al-Ahram Editor: Disrespecting The Military Is A Red Line

The official daily Al-Ahram published articles expressing rage over Youssef's statements about Al-Sisi and the military. Three days after the show aired, Al-Ahram's editor, 'Abd Al-Nasser Salama, published a scathing article in which he criticized media statements insulting the military, alluding to Youssef's show but not naming him specifically. Salama wrote: "Because we allowed ourselves to continuously disrespect the country's leaders... the natural result was media anarchy, which rose to an unacceptable level, especially in terms of sexual innuendo and disrespect of public figures. The greatest audacity was insulting the head of the military... since the current consensus in society is that we have a leadership that we can unite around, and therefore any attempt to disrespect the abilities of this leadership, whether explicitly or implicitly, is unacceptable to either side...

"Before getting into any details about liberties, democracies, etc., we must agree that the military – from the simple soldier to the most senior commander – must remain a red line, for it is forbidden under any circumstance and for any reason to harm the image of a soldier who has devoted his life and service to his country, let alone his commanders, who devoted entire lifetimes to this purpose... We must avoid harming the barrier surrounding our military, since the military is our last remaining strength and honor... There are undoubtedly limits to liberties and democracy, even in the most arrogant countries that tout [these values] constantly.

"Society will not accept the ongoing use of embarrassing innuendo or expressions in the media. In addition, public opinion must not accept any insult to the military and its commanders, especially at this stage when [the military] is entering into a real war on terror in the Sinai and [dealing] with chaos throughout Egypt, because this will surely harm its morale. If the purpose was to make the public laugh and ease its sense of tension and concern, it should not have been done at the expense of the military's status and the honor of its commanders. There are many other means to achieve this purpose. And if the goal was to get high ratings, this [too] should not have been done at the expense of the military and its commanders... But if the goal was to shatter [the honor] of the leader and harm his status... then we are facing a disaster that must be prevented immediately and cannot continue under any name or excuse.

"The number of complaints submitted to the general prosecutor on this matter, as well as the current uproar in society on this matter, indicate that a mistake has been made. Our society cannot bear more mistakes than have been forced on it over time, and are still being forced on it. There is no need to add to them, especially since this would increase the restrictions on the media even further, and we do not need that."[15]

Al-Ahram Columnists: No One Will Mock Egypt's National Symbols

Other Al-Ahram columnists also attacked Youssef's criticism of the Egyptian military and called on him to honor it. Columnist 'Adel Sabry wrote: "[Watching the show] for a few minutes, I saw Bassem Youssef mocking everyone. He mocked the previous [MB] regime, which we all mocked, but then he went on to mock President 'Adly Mansour and General 'Abd Al-Fatah Al-Sisi... No, Bassem, no one will mock Egypt's national symbols. Those you mocked from the previous regime are men who deserve what is happening to them, and are mocked by every Egyptian... The people [now] realize that this kind of show strives to destroy national symbols at a time when we are seeking patriotic people, who have become a rarity. Now that we have found a personality with these qualities, you go and turn it into an object of mockery so that it loses its honor..."[16]

Sami Khairallah, another columnist at Al-Ahram, defended Youssef but also stressed that the military was a red line: "Bassem Youssef, you have made a successful comeback after a long absence. Millions of viewers inside and outside [Egypt] waited for you with bated breath, [but then] attacked you harshly, [calling] you a collaborator and a traitor. Ignore these extreme opinions. Your show restored the lost smile to the Egyptian street. However, always remember that the Egyptian military is a red line, and that its honor is part of the honor of the homeland and the citizen."[17]

A third Al-Ahram columnist, Ashraf Mufid, claimed that Youssef was serving an American agenda that opposes the June 30 revolution, and called to handle any insult to the military harshly and decisively: "Anyone who watched only ten minutes of Bassem Youssef's show 'Al-Barnameg'... [understood] without a shadow of a doubt that the episode had not been written by the show's production staff, but [rather] by despicable hands in one of the closed rooms at the U.S. State Department, and was emailed to the U.S. embassy [in Cairo]... In this episode, Bassem Youssef exposed his ugly face and the ugly faces of no small number of journalists and activists that have adopted the American view and its objection to the June 30 revolution, treating it as a 'coup' against legitimacy... We must not remain silent over this outrageous show. There is no choice but to take a firm stance against those who insist on crossing the line. We are in a transitional period that demands decisive and aggressive action against anyone who allows himself to harm the popular June 30 revolution or the military, whether implicitly or explicitly, or insists on mocking our national symbols..."[18]

Youssef's Supporters: Bassem Lifted The Barrier Of Fear

On the other hand, many supported Youssef for daring to fearlessly speak the truth. Journalist Taha Khalifa wrote: "Bassem Youssef's new show was good and successful, and he did not forgo the basic value of the show – limitless freedom of opinion and expression – in the shadow of the new regime, especially when the show's success is based on satirical criticism of the regime, its discourse, its positions and its conduct, more than criticism of the opposition, which does not hold the reins of power... [Youssef] criticized and mocked everyone. He made millions in and out of Egypt happy; he made them think, and perhaps caused others to reexamine their positions and opinions...

"For the first time since [Al-Sisi came to power], we see a show, whether on a government or private channel, that addresses him as a flesh and blood human being, not as a god or demigod. We see that there are those who dare to criticize him, even mildly, and on a channel that promotes him and supports him, no less. This is good for Al-Sisi, assuming that he wants to be a human president and not a godlike king...

"Last night [during the show], Bassem slightly assuaged our concerns regarding the principle of freedom after January 25 and June 30... The fact that Bassem managed to say what he did in a calm, self-confident manner makes us understand that it is already hard and even impossible for any regime or ruler to harm liberty. No matter how loudly [its opponents] beat the drums [of war], a stream has emerged in Egypt that is unwilling to forgo this value, for the sake of which so much blood [has been spilled] since January 25. I believe that the barrier of fear has been totally lifted... Bassem has created a new voice, which criticized [both] the performance of the MB [and] the [current] regime. He presents a position that reflects the whole impartial truth, without either religious fascism or fascism in the name of patriotism and national security, without either accusations of heresy or accusations of treason against the homeland, and without accusations of violence and terrorism or of betrayal and belonging to a fifth column...

"The MB is under a harsh attack and an all-out war. Their voice is totally absent from the media. Therefore, when Bassem criticizes them in a responsible manner, and then balances it by speaking about the regime... in a responsible manner as well, he realizes the notion of justice in the media... Therefore I say that the MB is the one who gained the most from the episode... The regime is better off giving Bassem total freedom, since this will prove in and out [of Egypt] that it is not opposed to freedom of opinion and expression, and that it is not a regime of oppression... Bassem gave a voice to the majority stream of the Egyptian people – the moderate middle stream that opposes violence by [both] political and religious groups, and opposes oppression by official elements. This stream... works with dedication for the homeland, and only wishes to exalt it..."[19]

Al-Ahram columnist Osama Al-Gahzali Harb claimed that the show was one of the most important indications that the Egyptian revolution was a democratic one: "Bassem Youssef is finally back. His return is not just the return of a sweepingly popular TV show, but [an event] with important implications that we must understand. Firstly, the return of the show means that democracy, which was the most important foundation and goal of the January 25 revolution... is also one of the important foundations and goals of the June 30 revolution... I was sorry to hear about complaints and lawsuits [submitted] against Bassem, which accuse him of spreading false information that could undermine public security and damage the public interest, and of actions meant to spread chaos and fitna in the country and to threaten societal peace and security!! He was even accused of mocking the entire Egyptian people and the military, and ridiculing all the honorable national symbols in society and disrespecting tradition and customs!

"In contrast, I claim that Bassem Youssef's actions, his art, and his mockery of all institutions without exception and all people without reservations or red lines – are one of the most important signs that the Egyptian revolution is a democratic one... The show expresses the spirit of irony and fun that undoubtedly constitutes one of the most special and beloved traits of the Egyptian people. I have no comment other than to whisper in Youssef's ear to tone down his often explicit sexual innuendo..."[20]

Renewed Dialogue On Restricting Freedom Of Expression Following The Cancellation Of Youssef's Show

As mentioned above, on November 1, 2013, moments before the next episode of Youssef's show was to air, CBC announced that the show was cancelled due to "technical and commercial difficulties with the show's creator and presenter."[21]

The announcement, too, met with mixed responses among the Egyptian public. CBC journalists issued a statement of sympathy with Youssef, in which they wrote: "Even though we realize the show was not cancelled due to political pressure or out of a desire to restrict freedom of the press, we object to the cancellation in principle and hope that the channel and production company will reach an agreement soon."[22] A poll conducted by the Baseera Center for Public Opinion Research revealed that 48% of Egyptians object to the cancellation of Youssef's show.[23] Following the cancellation, dozens of Youssef's supporters protested outside the TV studio and demanded the show's return.[24]

Egyptians protest the show's cancellation: "The revolution continues", "no to silencing" (Al-Yawm Al-Sabi', Egypt, November 2, 2013)

Youssef himself traveled to the UAE for a week, during which he maintained media silence. He did not use his Twitter account, did not film another episode of his show, and did not publish his regular column in the daily Al-Shurouq.[25]

The Show's Cancellation Raises Doubts Regarding The Current Regime's Commitment To Freedom Of The Press

Ahmad Sayyid Ahmad, a columnist for Al-Ahram, criticized the decision to stop airing the show and claimed that it indicated that the current regime, much like the MB regime, does not truly support freedom of expression: "[Liberty in Egypt] has changed from a goal that society must fight for and one of the goals of the January 25 revolution into a tool that some people use and exploit to achieve political goals and personal interests. [Those people] will support liberty if it validates their views and if it targets a specific group or stream that they oppose, even if it reaches the level of excessive criticism and a violation of [other] principles. [At the same time,] they will object to [liberty] once it is used [to criticize] them, under the pretext of disrespecting tradition and the values of society...

"Ending Bassem Youssef's show 'Al-Barnameg' exposed the extent to which liberty and its implementation are misunderstood [in Egypt]. Stopping the show under the formal pretext that it disrespected societal values and offended society with sexual innuendo and inappropriate claims against political leaders who cannot be criticized reflects the hypocrisy of many of the political forces that repeatedly claim to be civil and liberal and that they support freedom of opinion and expression and freedom of the press. [These forces] supported Bassem Youssef when he attacked the Islamist stream that ruled the country, but now they criticize him or are silent about the cancellation of his show [because] they do not approve of the criticism on the show, even though it was voiced in the exact same way.

"Democracy cannot be reduced to the practical aspect of elections for parliament or president. The more important thing is its ideological aspect, which includes the culture of tolerance, coexistence, and accepting the other [even when you] disagree with him politically or ideologically. These are values that are still absent from Egypt's culture due to decades of oppression... True democracy is one in which all political streams coexist, whether they are Islamic or civil, and which precludes all expressions of hatred and exclusion..."[26]

Al-Masri Al-Yawm columnist Mohamed Abu Al-Ghar wrote similarly: "The cancellation of Bassem Youssef's show was like lightning that struck all Egyptians and raised serious doubts regarding the reliability of the current regime and of the owners of its ally TV channels, and regarding their seriousness in realizing liberties in Egypt... Egyptians today will not agree to be subjected to restrictions or rules that contravene the international values of liberty, [not even] under the pretext of preserving national security... After the [October 25] episode aired, the 'deep state,'[27]…sent groups to attack Bassem Youssef under the pretext that he had harmed the authorities and attacked the defense minister... No one will disrespect the rights and liberties achieved by the [Egyptian] people, and no one will take them from us under any condition.

"Liberty does not mean chaos. Liberty in the wider sense, as it is applied in democratic countries, is the fundamental guarantee of Egypt's progress... The main beneficiary [from Bassem Youssef's show] is the Egyptian people, which has shown that it will not relinquish the liberty it has achieved and that it is willing to die for this cause. The rulers of Egypt should know that the clock cannot be turned back. The second beneficiary is Bassem Youssef [himself], who has proved that he is an excellent artist loved by millions, and that he is also a true patriot, as evident from his weekly articles. Anyone who wants the return of the Mubarak era with a different director and scenery does not know that Egypt has changed, and that history will not spare anyone who tries to imprison the Egyptian people..."[28]

Youssef Is A Self-Interested Opportunist

On the other hand, some columnists claimed that there are much more important topics to be addressed than Youssef and his show. Muhammad Baraka, a columnist for the daily Al-Yawm Al-Sabi', accused Youssef of seeking nothing but publicity: "If Bassem [Youssef] was committed to the matter of freedom of expression, and [really] saw himself as a messenger calling to increase the level of criticism towards the political leadership, he would have acted with a measure of flexibility, and would not have supplied his opponents a knife with which to butcher his impressive achievement... I am sad about what happened to 'Al-Barnameg' and embarrassed by CBC's decision, but I do not absolve Youssef of responsibility. God knows that he was egotistical and only thought about his own personal interest. He had no message. He was seeking personal fame and [a halo of] heroism, wanting to be a martyr of freedom of expression in Egypt..."[29]

Al-Sisi And The Military Are Not Behind The Decision To Cancel The Show

Muhammad Al-Kardusi, a columnist for the daily Al-Watan, wrote: "I will not dwell on Bassem Youssef, that useless puppet on a string with American inclinations. I will not discuss his worthless show, which has no value and is beneath any debate or argument, when there are many other important issues and problems [to deal with]. But I wonder: What is the military's interest in this puppet on a string? Why should the military, which is waging all-out war against the MB's terrorism, deal with a television show, whatever its content may be? Is it conceivable that Al-Sisi was behind the decision to prevent [the show from airing]? These are [MB] fantasies... This is their war, through which they want to harm Al-Sisi's image and his sweeping popularity, [so as to] marginalize him and pave the way for every 'valueless' representative of theirs... [to win] the next presidential elections...

"I do not believe that the cancelation of Bassem Youssef's show merits this uproar or these tears. I do not believe that it constitutes any threat to freedom of expression in a shattered and collapsing country where anarchy rules, and where dozens, if not hundreds, of problems take precedence to the luxury of [dealing with] 'freedom of expression.' Finally, I do not believe that this storm will last more than two or three weeks... What [people] do not know is that the decision to cancel the second episode was exclusively CBC's... The military had no recommendation on the matter, even if some of its commanders were outraged by the show..."[30]

Bassem Youssef: Regimes "Accuse Artists, Musicians And Writers Of Treason And Espionage Because They Refuse To Be Led Like A Herd"

On November 12, 2013, after some two weeks of silence, Youssef published a column in Al-Shurouq in which he implicitly addressed the issue by harshly criticizing regimes that level accusations of treason at artists and creators "who refuse to be led as a herd."[31] The following are excerpts from an English translation of the column posted November 15, 2013 on[32]

"The late Osvaldo Pugliese is the most famous tango musician in the world. He and other artists [were] categorized as enemies of the state for opposing military rule in Argentina in the 1970s. Accusations of opposing a regime can easily turn into accusations of conspiring against a regime, which then develop into accusations of treason and espionage, and finally [of] membership in the fifth column.

"Regimes try to regain what they have lost by accusing artists, musicians and writers of treason and espionage because they refuse to be led like a herd in a [climate] of mass-hysteria [created] by those claiming virtue, piety and patriotism. U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy is an example of someone who manipulated people’s emotions and misused patriotism. He became infamous in the 1950s for his crackdown against alleged communists. Since American law did not criminalize intellectual support for communism, the accusations turned into [accusations of] harming stability, corrupting American values and, of course, conspiring to overthrow the government. He interrogated dozens of Hollywood writers, directors and actors over alleged links to communism. Blacklists emerged. People were tried and jailed. Those who were not convicted had their lives destroyed as society and their friends cast them out and all major production companies refused to hire them.

"We cannot entirely blame McCarthy. The truth is [that] there is some sort of fear and worry [exist]... in [every] society. Simmer these fears, and they blow up into mass hysteria that does not listen to others, does not discuss, and does not accept negotiations. It may be fear [for] the country, [for] religion, [or for] values or identity. It does not matter. The mechanism is one, as is the strategy...

"Create an enemy, demonize it, drown people in conspiracy theories, and specify and exaggerate people’s fears. Then shoot your arrows at whoever you want. People will then be ready to attack, and you will not need to make [any] more effort. All you [need do is] tell them there are evil witches in town, [and] then point your finger towards the victim. The angry masses will do the rest. No one will ask you for your sources or for irrefutable evidence. No one [in Egypt] currently asks why some people are being defamed and accused of treason and espionage [on] our satellite channels. But none of this matters. The verdict has been issued, and all [those] silly details like evidence mean nothing...

"The 1957 U.S. Supreme Court decision to protect citizens from random accusations and slander without proof is the only good thing that came out of McCarthy's actions. Maybe we need a similar law, because, frankly, we have gotten tired of the [recurring] lists of spies and of the [recurring] faces who reproduce these accusations without evidence. Until [such a law is passed], newspapers and satellite channels will continue to feed off people's flesh.

"There is not a huge difference between the practices of a military regime, a religious regime, or a fascist regime with a patriotic touch. Those who claim piety are no less fierce, as they may add the accusations of apostasy and enmity [to] religion to the list.

"Most Muslim scientists and philosophers whose biographies are used as proof that the Islamic Caliphate is the solution were [actually] creative people who were accused of apostasy and even killed in the name of religion. So if you are a Muslim scientist, a Hollywood writer, or a composer of the best tango music, maybe history will remember you for your work and creativity. However, you will probably live as an outcast, accused of treason, espionage, and perhaps heresy. In that case, let us see what good tango will do you."

N. Shamni is a Research Fellow at MEMRI.


[2] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 5525, "On The Eve Of Al-Sisi's Birthday, His Personality Cult Reaches Crescendo," November 18, 2013.

[3] Al-Wafd; Al-Misriyyoun (Egypt), October 28, 2013.

[4], October 27, 2013.

[5], November 2, 2013.

[6], November 17, 2013.

[7] Al-Shurouq (Egypt), November 12, 2013.

[8] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), October 27, 2013.

[9] Al-Hayat (London), October 27, 2013.

[10] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), October 27, 2013.

[11] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), October 28, 2013.

[12] Al-Wafd (Egypt), October 30, 2013.

[13], October 26, 2013.

[14] Al-Arabiya (Saudi Arabia), November 2, 2013.

[15] Al-Ahram (Egypt), October 28, 2013.

[16] Al-Ahram (Egypt), October 28, 2013.

[17] Al-Ahram (Egypt), October 28, 2013.

[18] Al-Ahram (Egypt), October 30, 2013.

[19] Al-Misriyyoun (Egypt), October 28, 2013.

[20] Al-Ahram (Egypt), October 31, 2013.

[21] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi' (Egypt), November 1, 2013.

[22], November 3, 2013.

[23] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), November 3, 2013.

[24] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi' (Egypt), November 2, 2013.

[25] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), November 1, 2013.

[26] Al-Ahram (Egypt), November 6, 2013.

[27] The term "deep state" refers to state institutions that preserve their power even during regime changes.

[28] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), November 4, 2013.

[29] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi' (Egypt), November 5, 2013.

[30] Al-Watan (Egypt), November 2, 2013.

[31] Al-Shurouq (Egypt), November 12, 2013.

[32] The text has been lightly edited for clarity.

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