Bassem Youssef, known as the "Egyptian Jon Stewart", told a
news conference the Saudi-owned MBC Masr TV station had been put
under more pressure "than it could handle".
Last week's presidential election was won easily by Abdel Fattah
al-Sisi, the man who, as army chief, toppled Egypt's first
freely-elected leader, Islamist Mohamed Mursi, last year.
"The pressures have been made from the first episode and MBC
Masr had fought for us as much as possible," said Youssef.
Youssef's predicament will raise new questions about freedom of
expression in Egypt, the most populous Arab state.
His associates told Reuters that his latest show, never
broadcast, had made fun of the low turnout in the presidential
vote, the pro-Sisi media frenzy and women supporters dancing at
"I thank MBC Masr for hosting us and I can't blame it for the
pressures it had been put under. It was more than it could
handle," Youssef said.
"Those who think there has not been pressure are delusional."
MBC group spokesman Mazen Hayek said the network had nothing to
do with the decision to pull the show off air. "Like Bassem
said, MBC did its best to keep the program on air."
Asked to comment on media reports that Saudi Arabian authorities
had pressured MBC to end the show, he said: "I am not in a
position to confirm or deny such rumors."
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait showered Egypt
with billions of dollars in aid after Sisi ousted Mursi of the
Muslim Brotherhood last year, following mass protests against
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The Gulf countries see the Muslim Brotherhood as an existential
threat to their monarchies.
Security forces have mounted a fierce crackdown against the
Brotherhood, killing hundreds in street protests and jailing
thousands. Secular pro-democracy activists have also been rounded
Asked to comment on freedom of expression in Egypt, Youssef answered
with his trademark sarcasm:
"We are living in the most glorious years of democracy in Egypt, and
may the tongue of the person who does not agree with that be cut
off. "Youssef rose to fame with a satirical online show after the
revolt that swept autocrat Hosni Mubarak from power in 2011. His
program, later broadcast on television, has been compared to the
U.S. satirical comedy "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart".
He was pulled off the air last year while working for Egypt's
private CBC channel after he mocked Sisi. He had also taken many
jabs at Mursi.
"I'm not a fighter or an opposition. I am a comic anchor, yet I have
been subjected to a number of legal complaints, possibly more than
anyone in history, both during and after Mursi's time," he said.
"We hope to live the day when we can do the show the way we want it,
with no pressures."
(Reporting by Yasmine Saleh; Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by
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