The Prince of Laughter

“You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”

Call him a clown, call him a traitor, call him whatever would make you sleep at night. I don’t care if some are thinking that Bassem Youssef is losing his touch or running out of jokes, because Al-Bernameg was never only about laughter; it served a much greater cause.

There is a reason why most Egyptians enjoyed watching Bassem Youssef when he first started working with CBC, when Morsi had already taken charge. Al-Bernameg offered 2-3 hours of boundless entertainment, with the ability to finally criticize and judge those who were in control of our country, destroying the fear and threats that once prevented our freedom of speech. And Bassem Youssef spoke on behalf of us, with none minding it as long as it served and supported our political views.

I watch the show not for the jokes, but rather for the satisfaction I gain from seeing the guy expose and reveal the corrupt and hypocrites. How can anyone tolerate the likes of Tawfik Okasha and Tamer Amin yet somehow demand the end of Al-Bernameg? Yes, the show is by no means suitable for all ages, and makes laughing at some jokes embarrassing at times with unneeded and inappropriate humor, but let us overlook this trait for now. Can you deny the fact that it opens one’s eyes to what is going on around us? Can you deny the show’s influence on the 30th of June revolution, as it helped us realize the true nature and mindset that El-Ikhwan possessed?

Now, as we gradually return to a pre-revolution Egypt, where fear and intimidation kept the people’s voice and power at bay, many are starting to object what Bassem Youssef is offering. He’s breaking the rules. He is acting as a wake up call as some continue to involuntarily fall back and let the regime take over once again. He is not just a comedian.

“You know what, you know what I noticed? Nobody panics when things go according to plan. Even if the plan is horrifying. If tomorrow I tell the press that like a gang banger, will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it’s all, part of the plan. But when I say that one, little old mayor will die, well then everyone loses their minds! “

When a government provides the people with false hope through a fake, fictional cure to severe, lethal health problems, and the people are so desperate and blinded that they believe it, you realize how easy it is for a few officials to brainwash the innocent. And what happens when you take that hope away? What happens when you destroy one’s dreams and hopes of survival? It is not about the jokes anymore, it is about the topics and incidents Al-Bernameg brings to our attention in order to take off the blindfolds and keep our feet on the ground.

Ever wondered why so many people are so desperate to silence Bassem Youssef once and for all? He encourages and drives the viewers to question what they’re seeing, to stop taking things for granted. How is that a bad thing? (Disregarding the government’s point of view on the subject)

I’m sure Bassem Youssef could go on and ramble about politics once a week in a more professional manor, but it is his choice to present his views and ideas through black comedy. You are free to agree and disagree, but if you really do believe and support democracy, you have no right to demand his silence. And if you are not a fan of freedom of speech, there are many others who do not deserve the chance and privilege to speak to the people through the media, and shutting them up is way more important and significant than targeting Bassem Youssef.

The problem is that he’s not acting in accordance with the plan.


Change bites.

If seeing millions of Egyptians cry for another Pharaone surprises you, you were too optimistic. There is a reason why Egypt has practically achieved nothing during the last three years. There is a reason why the people seem to have forgotten the purpose and goal behind the 25th of January’s revolution. There is a reason why the people are once again asking for the military to regain control. Egyptians are not fans of change.

I remember watching the people once barge into Carrefour during the revolution hoping to go home with as many supplies as possible. The thing is these people didn’t look poor to me, but rather just simple providers for their families. The reason they chose to take advantage of the then state of chaos (the state revolutionaries chose over surrendering to the regime) was because they believed nothing was going to change. Just a bunch of overly excited young Egyptians who thought they could end the tyrant’s rule; an epiphany. These people thought they better secure a short period of their miserable future before things go back to normal, and I can’t really blame them now.

I remember when everyone were out cleaning the streets with hope of a brighter future, trying to fix whatever was in their control. But it didn’t last long.. Apparently, a more civilized way of living was too much for the people to handle. Some may argue I’m being too shallow, but overlooking the little things continues to be our biggest mistake. Throwing trash in the garbage cans isn’t that difficult to do, is it? Asking the people to drive more cautiously and to follow the very basic laws isn’t that difficult to do, is it? No, but the institution has taken its toll on the people. Apart from those who participated in the 25th of January (and I’d like to mention that unfortunately I was not one of them, and was even against it at first), we Egyptians suffer from metathesiophobia; we fear change, and it could go back to something as simple as waiting for the light to turn green because it shows how unwilling the people are to make a difference as long as their own lives remain unaffected, untouched.

When Morsi first took charge, millions were already unwilling to grant him the benefit of the doubt. Why? It wasn’t because El-Ikhwan were already destroying Egypt, but because we did not know what was coming. Those who supported Morsi hoped he would ‘mix’ Islam with all aspects of life, because Islam represented safety and order. On the other hand, those who opposed him right from the start knew that if this was truly the case, it would change everything.

Now, back to the present. What does El-Sisi represent? El-Sisi represents similar times to Mubarak’s. El-Sisi represents stability (maybe for another 30 years). El-Sisi represents safety (“the man with the iron fist”). How do you say no to that after all we’ve witnessed? How do you say no to that after Egypt have suffered from a mini civil war? He’s the hero that ended El-Ikhwan’s rule. He is the one that can let things go back to the way they were, and he’s the one that can once again restore Egypt’s safe streets and political stability. Is opposing a presidential candidate like that man, the people’s hero, even possible? Yes.

For me, seeing El-Sisi as Egypt’s new president would destroy many hopes and dreams. It is illogical, and it baffles my mind. How did Egyptians manage to celebrate on the 25th of January the fall of an Egyptian dictator by promoting the election of possibly another one? One who used the people’s naivety, fear, and desperation to spill Egyptian blood. Some may have deserved to die, and my hatred towards El-Ikhwan knows no limits, but choosing to make them ALL suffer was by no means an ideal, reasonable solution, and “an eye for an eye makes the world blind.” (Gandhi)

Again, for those who may argue I’m being too pessimistic, I say power corrupts and there isn’t a better example than the list of Egyptian rulers. We have always been cornered into choosing between freedom and safety, as Mubarak would say: يا أنا يالفوضي.

Egyptians have already forgotten those who have fallen victims of selfishness and fear over the past three years because they chose safety over freedom a long time ago. The ones willing, hoping for true change are slowly disappearing, leaving behind the brainwashed, illiterate, institutionalized Egyptians to take over. And you wonder if Egypt will ever rise to power again?

I don’t know if there is anyone out there who can turn Egypt into a better place, and do so fairly. All I know is that you don’t start building a pyramid from the top. Whether we like it or not, the people once voted for Mubarak and Morsi. Our problems were never limited to the one ruling from Egypt’s throne, they go much deeper.

End this fear of change and let the people know that they don’t live to serve dictators, or else admit that democracy, if it ever existed, has failed. If the people are happy with allowing a dictator to take control over their lives in return for safe streets, then so be it. Nevertheless, don’t expect me to be a part of it. Don’t expect me to stay in the shadows. I was not born to stay silent nor to suffer from others’ mistakes. And, ironically, I’m not changing back to the way I used to be.