Almadhoun spends a lot of time explaining to use that he likes Youssef and is a fan of his. But he points out that not just Muslims want to silence Youssef! Big business does too! Apparently it isn't the silencing that bothers Almadhoun, it's the fact that President Morsi and Muslims are being blamed for it.
I understand that I'm skipping ahead a little bit so feel free to read Almadhoun's article for yourself. He then points out that Youssef is being paid, and in the millions of dollars, for his show, before his article takes a turn for the legitimately unsettling:
"He has more friends outside of Egypt than inside of it. It's not a secret that Egypt is experiencing some volatile times. In my judgment the last thing the country needs is a polarizing voice that has made a career of picking on the president every night. Bassem Youssef has made a lot of enemies, and not all of them hate him for his speech. Reports that he has the American Ambassador in Egypt on speed dial do not really reflect the level of patriotism that has been sweeping across Egypt recently. Some observers have pointed out to how certain Arab and non-Arab media outlets are using this ordeal to further damage Egypt and get back at presidency."Ah, so what Almadhoun is saying is that only people who are well-liked, patriotic, and only say things make Egypt look good should be allowed to have freedom of speech. Isn't that special? I hope that he remembers this the next time he wants to defend some Palestinian "freedom fighters." He compounds this with the next paragraph:
"I have a hunch. Had Bassem Youssef been a vocal supporter of the president of Egypt, CNN wouldn't bother with him. It's all about self-interest. Such outlets follow Bassem only because he is causing trouble in Egypt and because he is critical of the democratically elected president. He is entitled to do all that. Still, I remember during the run-up to the war in Iraq, few, if any, in the American media dared to speak out against the president and his ill-fated plan to invade Iraq."First of all, deflection. Nobody in America is throwing the real Jon Stewart in jail nor even discussed it, no matter how often he does his hilarious George W. Bush impression.
Secondly, yeah of course he is getting notice because he is a "troublemaker." If you are only allowed to praise the ruling regime, you don't really have freedom of speech. Freedom of speech only matters if it applies to everyone, even people that we despise. It's like the classic American-Soviet joke about freedom of speech in their respective countries. Freedom, if it means anything, is the right to tell people what they don't want to hear. And apparently Almadhoun doesn't want to hear what Youssef has to say.
After explaining that he doesn't want Youssef to go to jail, Almadhoun finishes his article with a full court press character attack on him. Check this out (emphasis mine again):
"Egypt stands at a critical juncture, and Bassem Youssef is taking advantage rather than playing a helping role. It only takes one deranged person to ruin the reputation of an entire nation. Bassem Youssef has entertained so many people and in the process has mocked all things that make Egypt the place loved by so many people....Bassem Youssef is milking his five minutes of fame, and his friends are talking about him as if he is some modern-day Martin Luther King Jr. MLK did not have a million-dollar contract. MLK did not insult people for money. MLK did not try to embarrass his foes. Let's stop pretending Youssef is fighting the good fight. He is just fighting for a paycheck."Amazing how quickly Almadhoun went from explaining how much he was a fan of Youssef to call him "deranged."
He's right, though. Youssef isn't a MLK. But he is a highly placed entertainer who is getting cracked down upon by the ruling regime in a period of transition for Egypt. As Almadhoun calls it, this is a "critical juncture." It's no longer about Youssef, it's about what kind of society the Egyptians want to build for themselves. Almadhoun, as usual for the Huffington Post, is missing the point. Who cares if Youssef just cares about money? Who cares if Youssef is a giant jerkwad? Egypt should not be a society where you can go to prison for insulting the government and the ruling religion.
Youssef is a symbol now, this is bigger than him. Time for Almadhoun and his Huffington Post employers to figure out where they stand on freedom of speech in Egypt.