Bassem Youssef suspends weekly column over plagiarism backlash

Satirist Bassem Youssef decided to suspend his weekly column in privately owned daily Al-Shorouk following accusations of plagiarizing his last article about the political crisis in Crimea.

“I confirm that there is no acceptable justification for what happened, and so for words to be matched with action, I have decided to stop writing for a while to focus on Al-Bernameg and give myself room for reflection and review professional and journalistic mistakes to better serve the readers,” Youssef wrote in Al-Shorouk Sunday.

“I took this decision even though I enjoyed expressing myself through a different medium,” Youssef wrote. “I considered this a personal hobby away from Al-Bernameg’s problems.”

Last week, Youssef published a column analyzing the crisis in Crimea, originally written by London-based writer Ben Judah, while failing to give credit to the author. Youssef issued an official apology following a widespread backlash, saying he unknowingly failed to cite the author in light of his hectic schedule and work for Al-Bernameg.

However, in Sunday’s statement, Youssef acknowledged that his apology and excuse were not enough, saying there is no justification for this mistake.

“I am aware that there are many who did not accept the apology and I am aware that I lost the trust of many and that this accusation will always loom over me and will surface with every statement or opinion I give,” he wrote. “Alas, this is life and this is the price you pay when you make a mistake when you enjoy a certain celebrity.”

Youssef wrote that he hoped his decision would set an example for others who “wrong the nation on a daily basis with no shame.”

Youssef said he is proud nonetheless to be living in a time where popular censorship is on the frontlines against mistakes and violations committed by media personalities.

“It is because of you that the newly born culture of apology exists, and continues to grow,” he wrote. 

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