Bassem Youssef, once the most watched television personality in Egypt, has accused the Egyptian government of paying “conservative Egyptians” to heckle his performances in the United States.
In a Facebook Post, the doctor-turned-comedian shared an article by The New Yorker that covers an incident in which he was heckled.
“Funny that when I finally made it to be in a story in the New Yorker it would be about that time when hired hecklers by the regime tried to sabotage my show in New York. The New Yorker was there to witness the whole thing,” said Youssef, also known as the Jon Stewart of Egypt, on Facebook.
In the article, Youssef and his manager, Maha Nagy, discuss how there are often several ticket holders at his performances who are there to disrupt his performances.
“These people are paid hecklers,” explains Youssef, describing the hecklers as “older than the rest of the crowd” and “wearing baggy suits and not laughing.”
Nagy adds to this, adding that it happens at every show.
“They are conservative Egyptians who live here, but they are hired by the Sisi regime to heckle,” says Nagy in the article.
“And then at some point one of them heckles, his friend films it with a cell phone, and they edit the video to make it seem that audiences are rejecting Bassem’s message.”
The article by The New Yorker then covers an event in which such heckling takes place. It describes how two women, wearing the hijab, and men, wearing baggy suits, started chanting “Sisi! Sisi!” during Youssef’s performance.
The claims by the comedian have not been confirmed by the Egyptian government.
Youssef left Egypt shortly after President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi became President. The Egyptian satirist has been residing in the US since then where he has continued his career in comedy.