Renowned Egyptian satirist pilloried for plagiarism
CAIRO - An Egyptian satirist, renowned for his attacks on the alleged unprofessionalism of the country's media, has been pilloried on Twitter for plagiarism after he admitted failing to credit analysis in his weekly column.
Bassem Youssef tweeted an apology hours after the column appeared in Tuesday's edition of independent daily Al-Shourouk, but that did not prevent a barrage of accusations of hypocrisy and claims he had only owned up because he got caught out.
"Bassem teaches us every week that the media should be clean and trusted, LOL" (laugh out loud), a Twitter user who calls himself ProfO wrote, referring to the satirist's weekly television show Al-Bernameg (The Programme) in which he regularly pokes fun at Egyptian journalists.
Youssef blamed his workload for not making clear he had lifted large sections of his column from a piece published on US website politico by Moscow-based journalist Ben Judah.
"I bear responsibility for not adding the sources at the end, it was added later, I deeply apologise," he tweeted.
In a separate apology on Al-Shourouk's website, Youssef said: "Tuesday is the most difficult day of the week for Al-Bernameg's crew, as it is when we finish writing the episode and the preparation of the guests."
The apologies did little to halt the deluge of criticism from Egyptians, although they were accepted by the author of the original piece.
"Youssef "only 'apologised' and only added the 'sources' after we exposed him," Omar Kamel said on his Twitter account.
Judah tweeted an appeal to Egyptians to forgive the satirist for borrowing from his piece: "Why Russia No Longer Fears the West".
"I was victim of stolen article, I accept apology, forgive man," he wrote.
But on Thursday, Judah announced he was going offline as the reaction to the alleged plagiarism of his article took on an increasingly anti-Semitic tone.
"Dear Egyptians! I will be going off Twitter now for days until the Jew-hating rage subsides," he wrote.
Some Egyptian Twitter users too expressed shock at their compatriots' focus on the background of the journalist who had penned the analysis of Moscow's defiance of the West in Crimea, rather than Youssef's failure to credit him.
"Even worse than (Youssef's) plagiarism is the hostile anti-Semitism shown by many," student Amir Beshay wrote on his account.