Bassem Youssef tells Piers Morgan 'terrorism is a virus' in second interview

Egyptian comedian's previous appearance on the British presenter's show went viral

Bassem Youssef presented Piers Morgan with a gift of olive oil from the occupied West Bank. Reuters
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Egyptian comedian Bassem Youssef returned to Piers Morgan Uncensored on Wednesday for an interview in which he sought to highlight the desperation of the Palestinian people to a western audience and likened terrorism to a “virus” that can be treated.

The two-hour interview in Los Angeles also saw Youssef and Morgan discuss their initial conversation last month, which has been viewed more than 20 million times and became the presenter's most-seen show.

“All I did was just take the talking points … take reality, flip it on its head, exaggerate it,” said Youssef, a former heart surgeon, referring to a joke he made in the previous interview about Palestinians being “very difficult to kill”.

Early in the conversation, Youssef presented Morgan with a gift of olive oil from the occupied West Bank before the pair delved deep into the horrors of recent weeks.

Central to the discussion was the moral question of what is happening in the Gaza Strip with Israel's ground and air bombardment of the territory where Palestinian authorities say about 9,000 people have been killed.

Morgan briefly described the brutality of the Hamas attacks in southern Israel in which 1,400 people were killed.

But he then asked Youssef: “At what point does this become disproportionate? And when you see thousands of children being killed in Gaza, it fills me with utter horror.”

Youssef, 49, said that Israel's retaliatory strikes in Gaza had compromised the West's morality and commitment to liberal values.

He said Israel is showing it is not just targeting Hamas, but Palestinians in Gaza as a whole.

“This is not eye for an eye any more,” Youssef said. “This is an eye, a limb, a life, a house, a neighbourhood, a whole population – for an eye … it's not about Hamas any more.”

He said the war will only create more violence in the long run and that the way to eradicate terrorism is the exact opposite of what Israel is doing.

“Terrorism is a virus,” Youssef said.

“If a patient with the flu came to you … you give them nutrition, fluids and rest so the immunity of the body gets rid of the virus on its own.”

He said that Israel had “weakened” the body of Palestinians, making them unable to get rid of “hate and radicalism”.

Youssef also spoke in support of Jewish people who have experienced anti-Semitism after the Hamas attacks.

He said the initial interview he had done with Morgan was so widely viewed because the Palestinian viewpoint has been largely ignored in the western press.

“They're not being heard by the media. The plight and the suffering of the brothers in Palestine and in the Arab world are not being heard.”

Updated: November 02, 2023, 6:09 AM