Egyptian Comedian Bassem Youssef to Discuss Role of Satire in Changing International Landscape


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Bassem Youssef - WSJ


Satirist Bassem Youssef, considered by many to be the Arab world’s Jon Stewart, recently compared his free speech battles in Egypt to those fought in the United States.

“We would like to tell ourselves that accepting satire is a sign of progress,” Youssef said. “But the truth is even free societies don’t always celebrate free speech.”

He noted the 1962 arrest of Lenny Bruce on obscenity charges, the arrest of George Carlin after uttering those “seven words you can never say on television,” and the backlash against Bill Maher‘s comments in 2002 about the 9-11 attacks.

“The persecution of satirists, directly by governments or indirectly through public pressure and workplace intolerance, has a long history,” Youssef said. But “satire is an offending art. There will always be satirists who break taboos and make jokes that hurt and offend us and make us uncomfortable.”

Youssef will discuss satire and free speech from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on May 1 at Prince Lobel Tye, LLP, 100 Cambridge Street, Suite 2200, in Boston. The discussion comes about a year after Youssef ended his popular Egyptian political satire show Al-Bernameg, citing a fear for his and his family’s safety. The New England First Amendment Coalition is co-sponsoring the event.

Youssef is currently living in Boston, attending Harvard University as a fellow at the school’s Institute of Politics. Among his many accolades, Time Magazine listed Youssef as one of the world’s most influential people in 2013 and the Committee to Protect Journalists recently named him one of four recipients of its International Press Freedom Award.

The event is free and open to the public, though registration is required to attend. Those interested in attending the discussion can register here.

A Discussion with Bassem Youssef: Is Satire Dead?

Presented by Prince Lobel Tye LLP

Co-Sponsored by the New England First Amendment Coalition

May 1, 2015 | 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

100 Cambridge Street, Suite 2200, Boston MA

Free and Open to Public | Registration Required

More Information and How to Register

NEFAC was formed in 2006 to advance and protect the Five Freedoms of the First Amendment, including the principle of the public’s right to know. We’re a broad-based organization of people who believe in the power of an informed democratic society. Our members include lawyers, journalists, historians, academics and private citizens.