Satire Against Extremism is Taking the Web By Storm

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Muslims tired of the influence of Islamist ideas within their communities are finding expression through satirical websites and other forms of comedy online. Such outlets mock traditional Islamist tropes including hijab, anti-Semitism, homophobia and terrorism through satire.

Mufti News plays on theories about an international Zionist Conspiracy by claiming to be "a wholly owned subsidiary of Tel Aviv Media, LLC" with a President named Harrison Rothschild. They mock current events like the case of Zakia Belkhiri, who took selfies at an anti-Islam rally but was later found to have tweeted in support of Hitler.

They also take swings at popular figures in the Muslim community, such as in their list "The Four Biggest Muslim Comedians You Need to Follow On Twitter Write Now"

Describing Muslim-American comedian Dean Obeidallah, they write "Obeidallah’s stand-up commentary is funny, but even funnier are his political commentaries where he pretends that all criticism of Islam is rooted in Islamophobia and bigotry."

They also write that popular Islamist preacher Zakir Naik is in fact a character played by an actor named Ashok Agarwal.

They have a lot of success with young, liberally minded people in Muslim majority countries, who relish the chance to laugh at the absurdities of extremism. They have received their share of abuse and criticism, but take it in their stride. In a piece mocking those who are offended by their work, MuftiNews accused them of "Muftiphobia."

When Clarion reached out to MuftiNews for comment, their spokesperson had this to say: "Mufti News is about challenging the idea that Muslims cannot joke and laugh. In reality, Islam perfected humor the same way it is the perfect religion. In the golden age of Islam, the Muslim world was the funniest place on earth. I'm not sure if that's true but I heard that once."

Khabaristan Times is a Pakistani satire site, which frequently throws barbs about the treatment of women in Pakistan, through pieces saying things like a rapist had been released after it was discovered that the victim wasn't anyone's sister, daughter, mother or wife.

They also reported "Mullah Loses it After Seeing Ants Inside Perfectly Wrapped Lollipop," riffing on the Islamist trope that a hijab is to a woman as a wrapper is to a lollipop.

"The wrapper is supposed to protect the lollipop" the Mullah was quoted as saying. "The wrapper always protects the lollipop. That is what keeps the lollipop nice and fresh and safe and yummy till someone opens it."

Others explore comedy on YouTube. Comedian Adam Saleh does pranks, but several of his videos have a religious theme. In one he pranks people by telling them they've converted to Islam after having them repeat a phrase:

This is just a small selection of the breadth of comedy being put out by Muslim artists who are engaging critically with oppressive behaviors from Islamists while exploring their own relationship with their faith and culture in a positive and humorous way. 

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Meira Svirsky

Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org