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Bassem Youseff on the Arab Spring, Using Comedy to "Tickle Giants"

In 2014, Bassem Yousseff, commonly described as the Jon Stewart of the Arab World, was forced into exile after being accused of and arrested for criticizing the Egyptian government. His show "El Bernameg," which translates to "The Show" ran from 2011 to 2014; before that, he worked as a heart surgeon. 

"There is a mixture of celebration and fear. There were people who believed in what they were doing," he says of the mood in Tahrir Square during the Arab spring. "On the state run media, it was a different universe. They were calling everyone an operative or a spy... You get a glimpse of what it was like when the students at Parkland, Florida came out. The right wing media described them as being paid by the left wing politicians." 

Youseff currently lives in California. He’s released a book “Revolution for Dummies” to try to educate Americans about what it’s like to live in the middle East andis the subject of a documentary called Tickling Giants. He’s speaking in Iowa City as a part of the Mission Creek Festival on Saturday, April 7, and during this River to River interview, he talks with host Ben Kieffer.

This post was originally published March 22, 2018

Lindsey Moon served as IPR's Senior Digital Producer - Music and the Executive Producer of IPR Studio One's All Access program. Moon started as a talk show producer with Iowa Public Radio in May of 2014. She came to IPR by way of Illinois Public Media, an NPR/PBS dual licensee in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, and Wisconsin Public Radio, where she worked as a producer and a general assignment reporter.
Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River