Muslims Speaking Against Terrorism [Updated]
[UPDATE 09/30/06: Well, I’m happy to be proved wrong, at least in part. MSNBC runs this article:
At Ramadan, TV turns up heat on extremists:
Satirical Saudi show makes mockery of militants, draws fundamentalist ire
which talks about the impact of “Tash Ma Tash”. I’m glad to see it and wish there were more.]
‘Tash’ Takes Saudi Satire to New Levels
Samir Al-Saadi, Arab News
JEDDAH, 30 September 2006 — For years comedy has been used to satirize the state or society in the Arab world. It is said to be the only way to criticize the systems in the region without having to spend a night or two in lockups. More than two decades have passed since Syrian icon Dareed Laham starred in his hit motion picture “The Border”. In the film, Laham criticized Arab-style bureaucracy in a production that has become a landmark for the modern history of political satire in the Middle East.
Today, Arabs can get a little relief from the sometimes-frustrating realities of politics and society by watching “Tash Ma Tash,” which first appeared on Saudi TV during Ramadan 14 years ago.
“Tash Ma Tash” is somewhat of a phenomenon in the Middle East. It’s one of the most widely viewed TV programs during the month of Ramadan, popular for its ascerbic attacks on the status quo. What’s somewhat surprising (at least to those who have little knowledge of Saudi Arabs) is that it is a Saudi production, in Arabic, and so clearly for domestic consumption.
One episode this year satirized the recruitment of terrorists, having the would-be terrorists compete in an “American Idol” type show. You can imagine how well that went down in some quarters. This Arab News article talks about some other episodes as well as about audience reaction. It’s pretty hotly debated.
Do read the whole piece, particularly if you think of Saudi Arabia as monolithic in its beliefs. Or if you think Muslims–even conservative, Wahhabi, Saudi Muslims–are incapable of saying “No!” to terrorism.
Even better, than saying “No!”, the show mock those who seek to use religion to promote terrorism. Mockery is one of the sharpest pens there is, particularly in an honor-based society. The fact that this program is seen by millions of Muslims, throughout the Arab world and Europe, should put paid to some of the Islamophobia. But I’m not holding my breath, unfortunately.
[Cross-posted at Crossroads Arabia]