Ahmed & Salim: The Funny Terrorists

23 04 2009

 

I’ve grown quite fond of Ahmed and Salim, the two funny and stupid young terrorists that look much like South Park characters. I keep playing the episodes over and over again.

I understand the controversy surrounding these series. Their creators are Israelis: Tom Trager and Or Paz. They depict quite a stereotypical image of Arabs and Muslims: living in a cave, having multiple wives in black, wanting to kill all the Jews, condoning suicide bombings… etc. The show has been blocked by the UAE from showing on YouTube, and there are some bloggers out there who truly believe that this represents real life and all Muslims and all Arabs, all throughout.

If you are a sensible person, you’ll see and understand that the cartoon paints an extreme case, even when it comes to the Jews (for example the curly-haired, freckled Jewish hostage in episode 2 who happens to look geeky and have a long nose).

The six online episodes are smart, funny and bitterly sarcastic. In some way, people have already started to love the two characters. They are not malicious. They’re just young and stupid.

In one episode you see their father, Palestinian arch-terrorist Yasser Mijhayeff, reading them a hateful bedtime story about the Jews. Yet, the two youngsters are far from interested in this hate. They want to play games like Grand Theft Auto and Guitar Hero. They want to watch Frasier, fall in love, and have facebook friends.

On the show’s website, the two creators wrote, “In contrary to what you may think we do not think bad of Arabs, we simply dislike people in general.”

I agree that it gets slightly more gruesome from the 4th episode on, but going over the edge is part of the fun. The characters say “George Michael” for “gay.” They say “banana” and “winker” quite randomly.

And my personal favorite line is when Salim says to his father, “Baqlawa, baba?” The translation: “Why not, dad?”

The music also reminded of old Egyptian game shows, especially during Ramadan (what was called “fawazeer”)

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Satire can heal in so many ways, and in abnormal situations, a lot of people find it easier to make fun of things rather stay grim and have the weight of the world on your shoulders.

A commentator on YouTube called “GreatnessMyNamels” wrote this:

“people need to stop taking this thing so seriously its just a cartoon about terrorists and plus it has nothing to do with islam because before islamic terrorists there were irish terrorists and russian terrorists so no that doesnt mean all terrrorists are islamic just at the moment the ones we hear about are islamic”

I absolutely agree. To my fellow Arabs and Muslims who felt really offended, I say in a loving way, get over yourselves. To be offended by these episodes indicates that you see these characters as a representation of you. They don’t represent me or my thinking, so why should I be offended?

I’d love to see more of these episodes and their likes.

Really, check them out if you haven’t already.

 

-P.S.: I chose Episode 2 because I it’s my favorite.





Cartoons on the offense

27 03 2009

 

Pat Oliphant's cartoon

Pat Oliphant's cartoon

Cartoons are making the headlines again. Australian-American, award-winning cartoonist, Pat Oliphant, recently published a black-and-white cartoon (as you can see above) portraying an Israeli soldier as a Nazi; headless, with his right arm raised in the air, going after a small Gazan woman carrying a child.

The outrage has been quite loud and astonishing. Numerous editorials appeared in mainstream media, not to mention a wave of blogging and ranting. Check out The Jewish Journal, and the Atlantic Magazine’s Jeffery Goldberg. The Anti-Defamation League that fights anti-Semitism had called this cartoon “hideously anti-Semitic.” Much of the opinion on the street is that it is so.

This reminded me of the Danish cartoons portraying the Muslim prophet, Muhammad, as a terrorist with a turban-bomb. Remember the chaos about those cartoons? The level of offense and insult carried out in this Israel-related cartoon competes with that of the prophet’s cartoons.

My Muslim fellows should, then, understand and even sympathize with the outrage about this. And those who cried “freedom of speech” about the Danish cartoons shouldn’t dare to yell “anti-Semitism” this time around.

Political cartoons are important. They are a way of expressing opinion, just as protests do. Granted they can be brutal and unrealistic, but that’s the point, isn’t it? Now I agree with the opinion that this cartoon, much like the Danish ones, can incite hatred, portraying a whole population as evil and murderous. That is why people should, and normally do, take cartoons with a grain of salt.

Here is a detailed analysis, from an Israeli side, about this cartoon by famous professor and writer, Barry Rubin. This was posted on several websites, and fellow blogger on The Lid. You may not agree with all of it but it is a good analytical piece. 

We will continue to debate the role of cartoons in our society and the limit of cartoonists. This is one case study to consider.