The Middle East knows there’s one thing that Islamic terrorists can’t stand: satire. Which is why comedians and networks in the region have started a humor offensive against the Islamic State. Cartoons and sketches now regularly harpoon the group and its leaders, slowly chipping away at their fabricated image of invincible killers.
According to the Economist, a state TV channel in Iraq, Al Iraqiya, has pumped about $600,000, an unprecedented amount for the channel, into the production of Dawlat al-Khurafa, which shows ISIS taking over a fictional village in Iraq and the dysfunctional antics that occur as a result. For example, they put the town drunk in charge of the alcohol ban, silly ISIS. The first episode is already appearing to be a big hit in the Middle East, with 750,000 views on YouTube.
Lebanon has been getting in on the trend too.
Lebanese-produced Ktir Salbe Show does sketch comedies to mock the Islamic State. The Huffington Post described one of the skits, where a jihadist gets into a Middle Eastern cab. The jihadist asks the cab driver to turn off the radio because he rejects modern technology. Likewise, he rejects the air conditioning and he makes fun of the driver for answering his cell phone.
The skit ends when the driver asks if cabs existed in the ancient Middle East. When the jihadist says “no,” the driver kicks him out tells him wait for a camel.
One of the shows writers talked to Huffington Post about taking on the potentially dangerous topic.
“Of course it’s a sensitive issue, but this is one way to reject extremism and make it so the people are not afraid.”
Dashawi (shown below) is another of the Middle East’s new ISIS mocking series. The cartoon makes fun of the group’s rigid interpretation of Islam.
The U.S. and the West have gotten a few jabs too. According to the Economist, cartoons in the Syrian village of Kafr Nabl have mocked Western forces for fighting ISIS while leaving Assad and his human rights-abusing regime in place.
The Middle East has long used satire to combat its authoritarian regimes, but it’s rarely been a destabilizing element. This most recent trend might be different, if the satire can counteract ISIS’ own well-produced recruitment tapes and savvy use of social media.
Unlike an established middle eastern state, ISIS depends on its reputation and image to secure recruits. If satirists can crack ISIS’ facade, they might really have an effect on bring peace to the Middle East.
*Warning Video May Contain Offensive Language*
[Image Credit: Al Iraqiya/AP]