Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef released a three-minute promotional video for his upcoming digital satirical series, in which the former television personality mocks the rise of Islamophobia in the United States.
The sketch revolves around an imaginary device, Breathe Easy, that promises consumers to detect “radical enzymes” in whoever uses the device and determine whether they are “safe” on a spectrum of “loves hummus” to “ISIS supporter.”
“Xenophobia and discrimination against others because of their skin, religion, gender, views, orientation and ethnicity is a plague that the whole world has. I hope there would be similar attempts in my own part of the world because we do have our own prejudices and intolerance. Satire is a great remedy for this and I hope we keep using it to bring people together,” Youssef said in a Facebook post.
In the video, Youssef pays homage to running jokes from his time as the host of Al-Barnameg in Egypt, including the infamous “Complete Cure Device” that a military doctor had once promised would cure Hepatitis C. As he speaks in English, the subtitles shown at the bottom of the screen translate the dialogue into colloquial Arabic filled with Egyptian humor.
The 10-episode series, titled The Democracy Handbook, will air on July 7 on media network Fusion’s digital platform, F-Comedy. Each 5-minute episode will tackle a different topic, from the presidential elections to immigration, in what Youssef described as a journey to “uncover the fifty shades of democracy.”
“Discussing, exposing and satirizing the political scene here in the States is something I am very excited about and hopefully I will be able to get Fusion in trouble along the way! Between issues like guns, white supremacist militias and Donald Trump, I am certain we won’t be lacking in any material,” Youssef said.
Since his abrupt departure from Egypt’s small screen in 2014, Youssef has embarked on a number of high-profile ventures. In addition to being selected as a resident fellow at the Harvard Institute of Politics and hosting the International Emmy Awards, Youssef has also been working on Tickling Giants, a biopic of his life and career as a political satirist, which is due to be released this year.
Despite numerous offers from international channels and networks, Youssef maintained that he would not bring back his popular show, El Bernameg, saying that the show “belongs to Egypt.”