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Egyptian satirist whose show was cancelled signs contract with new network

CAIRO - The popular Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef has signed a contract with the MBC Group and a new episode of his show will air later this week, a spokesman for the Dubai-based network said Saturday.

The private broadcaster CBC suspended Youssef's show last fall after the season's first episode. It was highly critical of the nationalist fervour gripping Egypt after the military overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, which followed millions-strong protests calling for his removal.

CBC said the satirist had violated its editorial policy and contractual obligations, and that he upset Egyptian sensibilities by attacking "symbols of the state." Government and presidential officials at the time said the decision was a private issue between Youssef and the station.

Youssef, who is often compared to U.S. comedian Jon Stewart for his scathing take on current events, told The Associated Press in early January that he planned to bring the show back.

Youssef's program has often stirred controversies, making him the target of many legal complaints. Authorities investigated him over the last episode on charges of disrupting public order and insulting Egypt and military leaders.

His popularity peaked during Morsi's rule, when he targeted him and his Islamist allies with weekly mockery for mixing religion and politics. Youssef also was briefly detained and released on bail under Morsi on accusations of insulting the president and Islam.

MBC spokesman Mazen Hayek said Saturday the network has been in serious talks with Youssef for the past few weeks, and that the show's production team will also be making the move. He says the new episode will air on Friday, Feb. 7.

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