Egypt satirist criticised for targeting Qatar

April 09, 2013 - 4:40:35 am

DOHA: A show last Friday of a popular Egyptian TV satirist that made a mockery of Qatar for helping their country financially has led to a controversy, with a large number of Egyptians criticising the host of the TV programme for insulting a friendly country and attacking its policies.

Bassem Youssef, the host, is also being criticised for making a parody of a national song of the 1960s about Arab unity to mock at Qatar. The song titled Watani El Akbar had been made into Qatari Habibi for the controversial TV show. The parody has been viewed on YouTube more than 350,000 times, Egyptian news websites report.

The tune, a parody of a popular song of Gamal Abdul Nasser’s era, mock at Qatar for providing financial assistance to Egypt, and the so-called plans of the Egyptian government to sell Suez Canal and lease the pyramids to Qatar — accusations that Qatar’s Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, H E Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabor Al Thani, earlier laughed at and described as wild and baseless.

Youssef’s last Friday’s weekly programme, that focused on Qatar, ran the controversial parody which, among other things, mocked at the Egyptians themselves as it said: “After the revolution we are begging overseas” — a reference to Qatar.

The original song was a chorus that was sung by a number of famous Egyptian singers in 1960. According to Egyptian newspaper El Akhbar, social networking websites in Egypt were filled with comments criticising Youssef’s Friday show.

“The show shouldn’t have been used to target a friendly country while handling our own national issues,” the newspaper quoted a commentator on a social networking site.

Some commentators have even gone to the extent of urging military intervention to stop the parody from being viewed on YouTube and expressed anger at the show saying it aimed at spoiling Egypt’s relations with Qatar.

Some have said Youssef has misused what is a platform for entertainment to attack other countries and their policies.

At least one commentator on the Twitter, who gave his name as Ahmed Al Darwi said that Qatar was the only country that helped Egypt when the latter was in a deep crisis. Another named Jamad Eid said on the Twitter that insulting Qatar was akin to insulting their own homeland (Egypt).

Critics of the show point out that Hamdeen Sabbahi, a politician who lost to Mohammed Mursi in the presidential election, was present during the show and he didn’t utter a word when Qatar was being targeted. The Peninsula

Al Masri, another Egyptian newspaper, reported that a famous Qatari journalist, Ahmed Ali, has lambasted the show and urged legal action against Youssef and the TV channel for insulting the Qatari flag. 

CBC TV, which runs Youssef’s popular weekly programme has, however, blocked the YouTube of last Friday’s show, fearing legal repercussions. At the end of his programme titled Albernamej (The Programme), Youssef, however, said that he had no problems with Qatar and its people.

“The problem is not with the one who is a buyer, but with the one who is selling,” he said, hinting he was targeting his country’s government in his satirical show.

Qatar’s foreign policy, according to analysts, is to help fellow Arabs in need. Qatar has not only helped Egypt when it needed assistance but has extended a helping hand to a number of fellow Arab countries, including Libya, Tunisia, Lebanon (after the 2006 war with Israel), and Palestine, including Gaza.

 Qatar is currently involved in restoring peace in the troubled Darfur region of Sudan.

Qatar pledged financial help to Egypt during the military rule after the revolution and not during the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood-backed President Mohamed Mursi, Qatar’s supporters remind. Also, Qatar supported Tunisia and Libya before Islamic regimes came to power in these countries.  The Peninsula