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Satire Strikes Back!

How do you fight against powerful religion-based terrorist networks like ISIS? By using satire and humor! CBS News reports that “television networks across the Middle East have begun airing cartoons and comedy programs using satire to criticize the group and its claims of representing Islam.”

A producer and writer of a show that mocks ISIS says:

These people are not a true representation of Islam and so by mocking them, it is a way to show that we are against them. Of course it’s a sensitive issue, but this is one way to reject extremism and make it so the people are not afraid.

For example, in one episode of the show:

A taxi driver picks up a jihadi who rejects listening to radio because it didn’t exist in the earliest days of Islam, a knock on the ISIS’ literal take on the Quran. The driver offers to turn on the air conditioning, but that too is rejected. The jihadi finally criticizes him for answering a mobile phone.

Fed up, the driver asks: “Were there taxi cabs in the earliest days?”

“No, 1,000 times no!” the passenger answers. The driver responds by kicking out the jihadi and telling him to wait for a camel instead.

Even the videos of mass executions released by ISIS are fodder for comedy and satire:

Palestinian television channel al-Falastiniya aired a skit showing two militants shoot Muslim civilians for their lack of knowledge on the number of times to kneel during prayers, all the while reminiscing over the beautiful women and best party neighborhoods they’d visited in Beirut.

When a Jordanian Christian approaches, the two militants begin fighting each other over who gets to shoot him – each wanting the “blessing” for himself. Terrified, the man suffers a fatal heart attack, leaving the militants devastated.

Satire has long been used in Arab culture, all the way back to their ancient poetry. Laughter and mockery are a powerful weapon against terror.

Arabic TV is also using the format of reality shows to fight against terrorism. An Iraqi show “In the Grip of the Law” forces convicted terrorists to face their victims. From one recent show:

Haider Ali Motar was convicted of terrorism charges about a month ago for helping to carry out a string of Baghdad car bombings on behalf of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) extremist group. … On a chilly, overcast day last week, the crew arrived at the scene of one of the attacks for which Motar was convicted, with a heavily armed escort in eight military pick-up trucks and Humvees.

After being pulled from an armored vehicle, a shackled Motar found himself face-to-face with the seething relatives of the victims of the attack. … When Motar was confronted by one of the victims, a young man in a wheelchair who lost his father in one of the attacks, the convict began weeping, as the cameras rolled.

The show is very popular:

We are at war on terrorism, and this programme is one of our psychological tools to fight the terrorists. Most people have a curiosity to know how those [militants] are thinking, who are they, what are their scientific, cultural and social backgrounds, so we are focusing on these points to break their morale.

Many of these terrorists feel a lot of remorse when they see the victims. When people see that, it makes them think twice about crossing the law.



  1. Peter wrote:

    It’s not really satire, but I always liked this fake Volkswagen commercial

    Wednesday, January 14, 2015 at 1:33 am | Permalink
  2. David Freeman wrote:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!
    This is the best, most useful post yet for answering ignorant folks who keep complaining that Muslims don’t speak out against the radicals within Islam.

    Also, the show which has victims confronting terrorists is a marvelous reminder of the real problem – radicalization of humans creates monstrous acts by humans not monsters. Killing terrorists is necessary but not sufficient for ending terrorism. The best weapon against terrorism is removing their tools for recruitment.

    Wednesday, January 14, 2015 at 8:09 am | Permalink
  3. Hassan wrote:

    DAVID FREEMAN, to your point I wish these people who claim muslims don’t speak against radicals, attend muslim Friday sermons. Just on condemning ISIS I heard sermons in 3 different places (there is no such thing as mosque membership, you walk in, pray and leave). Two of those mosques were in US, one week after another week. Then I had to go to Canada, then I heard muslim scholar condemn ISIS in detail.

    Not only that, I am sure friday sermons from holy mosques of Makkah and Madinah are available in arabic online. They must have condemned them like every now and then.

    The unfortunate issue in western media is that they either bring the most radical extremist on right, or just radical extremist on left.

    Wednesday, January 14, 2015 at 8:43 am | Permalink
  4. PATRIOTSGT wrote:

    DAVID- great point!

    I like that more true Muslims are joining the cause in fighting extremism. I believe it is the best weapon. The more that main stream religions speak out against their small minority radical wing nuts the better. Those groups will become more isolated and less able to recruit.

    Great Post – lets hope their is an explosion of satire, ridicule and admonishment of extremist ideology everywhere!

    Wednesday, January 14, 2015 at 11:09 am | Permalink