Magazine article Variety

Mideast's Media Portrayals of Isis Are No Joke

Magazine article Variety

Mideast's Media Portrayals of Isis Are No Joke

Article excerpt

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 selfproclaimed 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. …

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