×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Arab TV Works to Counter Isis and Stereotypes with Satire

As Isis, the fundamentalist Islamic group that has claimed swaths of Syria and Iraq as an independent state, continues its advance in the face of U.S. bombing, televised satire, with regional prejudices at its center, is being used in the Arab world to counter the group’s messages.

In Iraq, Al-Iraqiyya TV on Sept. 9 aired “The Superstitious State,” a ragtag musical comedy in which a character in a devil suit weds a Jewish princess (complete with a Star of David necklace and cheap drugstore tiara). The pair discover that their spawn — hatched from a giant egg  — is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed leader of Isis. Supporting characters in the cast include a whiskey-swigging American cowboy who serves as matchmaker.

The program has aired several times a day since its debut. It’s being squeezed onto crowded Iraqi airwaves that now feature a slew of anti-Isis satirical cartoons, in which bumbling animated terrorists misfire their weapons or run scared through the desert with Iraqi security officials at their heels. Think the antics of Wile E. Coyote, but with more sand, much higher stakes, and not a roadrunner in sight.

It’s not just Iraqi TV that’s using satire in an effort to sway its citizens against Isis. Similar tropes have played out on Lebanese TV, where the “Saturday Night Live”-style Ktir Salbe troupe has mocked the group, and on programs across the Palestinian territory.

A June 29 episode of the hit Palestinian satire show “Watan ala Watar,” carried by the Palestinian Authority’s Al Falastinia TV, shows a group of bored Isis soldiers setting up a checkpoint and interrogating, then gunning down, everyone who tries to pass. Everyone, that is, until an Israeli man shows up. Then the Isis sentinels step aside and let him walk through.

Satirical videos are an attempt by the nations of the Arab world to provide a boost in morale in the face of Isis’ ever-encroaching onslaught across the Middle East, says Yigal Carmon, president and founder of the Middle East Media Research Institute, which monitors and translates media coming out of the region. “They’re building on the most basic feelings of hate,” he says.“It’s what they need to lift themselves up. Suspicion of Zionism and America — this is the most influential mythology.”

Actors and directors of anti-Isis videos say they hope their programs will help counter extremism. “These people are not a true representation of Islam,” Nabil Assaf of Lebanon’s Ktir Salbe troupe told the Associated Press. “And so by mocking them, it is a way to show we are against them.”

More TV

  • Mala Chapple Todd Radnitz

    Viacom’s Music Group Taps Mala Chapple and Todd Radnitz

    Viacom’s Music Group, which comprises of MTV, VH1, CMT and Logo, has tapped Mala Chapple and Todd Radnitz to join its executive team, Variety has learned. Chapple will assume the position of SVP of content strategy, operations and media partnerships, while Todd Radnitz will be the company’s new SVP of original series. “Mala and Todd are at [...]

  • In this image released, general views

    Comcast Considers NBC Sky News Channel as NBCUniversal Revs Streaming Strategy

    Comcast is considering the launch of a news channel that would draw from the resources of NBC News and Sky News. Comcast chairman-CEO Brian Roberts dropped that tidbit during his remarks Thursday morning on the cable giant’s first quarter earnings call with Wall Street analysts. NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke also spoke enthusiastically about NBCU’s progress [...]

  • Désirée Finnegan Named Screen Ireland Chief

    Warner Bros. Exec Désirée Finnegan Named Screen Ireland Chief

    Désirée Finnegan will be the new chief executive of Screen Ireland, replacing the outgoing James Hickey. Finnegan, who hails from Dublin, joins from Warner Bros. Pictures where she was SVP, theatrical marketing and publicity, and guided strategy for campaigns across the EMEA region. In a 15-year stint at the Hollywood studio she worked on campaigns [...]

  • Motley Crue

    Motley Crue's Netflix Bump: Streams, Sales and Socials Surge (EXCLUSIVE)

    One month after the release of Mötley Crüe biopic “The Dirt,” the band is experiencing a Netflix bump on multiple platforms, including downloads, streams and book sales. In addition, the group gained new subscribers on YouTube and saw its socials pick up droves of followers on Facebook and Twitter. Here’s how the numbers break down: [...]

  • The newly married Duke and Duchess

    Broadcasters Order Royal Documentary ‘Meghan & Harry: Baby Fever’

    Broadcasters in Australia and the Netherlands, and cable network Lifetime in the U.S., have joined forces on “Meghan & Harry: Baby Fever,” a U.K.-produced documentary about Meghan Markle and Prince Harry – the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. It will chart the royal couple’s relationship the hugely anticipated arrival of their first child. ITN Productions [...]

  • Brian Roberts Olympics NBC Comcast

    Comcast Q1 Profit Rises On High-Speed Internet, Sky Results

    Comcast Corp. said profit for the first quarter of 2019 rose 14% thanks to new subscribers coming to its cable unit for high-speed online service and the addition of its recently acquired Sky PLC European-satellite business. The owner of NBCUniversal and the Comcast cable business said profit came to $3.55 billion, or 77 cents a [...]

  • 'The Grand Tour' Presenter Richard Hammond

    'The Grand Tour’ Presenter Richard Hammond Goes ‘Big!’ for Discovery

    Richard Hammond will take a break from his “Grand Tour” duties to make a series about the world’s biggest structures and machines for Discovery. The former “Top Gear” presenter fronts Amazon’s “Grand Tour” with Jeremy Clarkson and James May, but is going solo for “Richard Hammond’s Big!” Hammond’s Chimp Productions will make the show, which [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content