In Youssef’s show on Friday, he posed as the conductor of a choir that sang a new version of « My beloved homeland, my great homeland » in which the homeland was Qatar, described as a rich man willing to buy-off Egypt, a country stricken with economic crises.
Released in 1960, « My beloved homeland » became part of the Egyptian and Arab national conscience as it advocated Arab unity and solidarity.
However, keeping the same melody, Youssef and the choir replaced the word « homeland » with « Qatari » and changed the rest of the original song’s lyrics.
He dedicated a section of his show « Al-Barnameg » for criticising what he perceived as an influence exerted by Qatar on Egypt after the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi became the country’s first freely elected president last year.
Qatar has been a prominent donor of foreign aid to Egypt since the 2011 January revolution through soft loans and deposits in Egypt’s central bank, amounting to about five billion dollars to date.
« My beloved Qatari, the youngest brother…Everyday your money doubles-up…His investments fill his life…The Qatari spends and shows-off…, » Youssef’s song said.
« Oh Qatari, who’s filling our pockets… Oh a disaster that’s brought down our flag… Oh a renaissance [a development project announced by the Brotherhood] crushing our people… This is what the Brotherhood gave us… Sell Egypt wholesale and retail…, » the song went on.
The song was shared by many users on social networks Facebook and Twitter as anti-Morsi critics echoed the criticism of Qatar and Morsi.
It was performed by The Choir Project, a group founded in 2010 whose songs have typically voiced out dissatisfaction with socio-political issues since the Hosni Mubarak era.
The original national song first appeared two years after a political union was established between Egypt and Syria under the leadership of late Egyptian President Gamal Abd El-Nasser. The union, called the « United Arab Republic », was founded in 1958, but ceased to exist in 1961 when Syria withdrew from it.
The pan Arab song was sung by a number of prominent Arab artists, including Egyptian singer Abd El-Haleem Hafez, Algeria’s Warda and Lebanon’s Sabah.
« We do not have a problem with Qatar as a country…The problem is that when someone comes to rule this country, the first thing they think of is to seek aid, » Youssef said.
Youssef was released on EGP 15,000 bail last week after he was questioned at the prosecutor-general office after a number of complaints were filed against him for allegedly insulting the president and denigrating Islam in his weekly show.
On Friday, he thanked those who supported him and dedicated the end of his show to call for support for 15 political activists who have been tried or imprisoned or summoned recently but didn’t get enough media attention.