Fighting Salafists with YouTube satire
The German state of North Rhine-Westphalia has launched a satirical YouTube channel in the hope of stopping young people from becoming radicalised via the video-sharing platform. The project launched by the NRW Office for the Protection of the Constitution is in two parts: "Jihadi-Fool"– a satirical YouTube channel – and an accompanying factual channel.
The comical "Jihadi-Fool" channel, launched in August at the Gamescom computer games trade fair in Cologne, is a sketch comedy format that in NRW Interior Ministry words "satirically addresses the absurdity of radicalisation, terrorism and Islamism," while the educational channel refers to the satirical videos and counters Salafist propaganda with facts. Over the course of a year, 32 satirical videos and 16 factual videos will be released through the €500,000 project.
What impact "Jihadi-Fool"?
In one of the episodes that is already online, a right-wing populist and an Islamist meet on the street. Both try to convince passers-by of their different world views, but suddenly discover that they have much in common in their homophobic and sexist views and join forces.
Another episode shows a fictional TV soap opera entitled "Goodbye Syria", in which a returned extremist tries to cope with the challenges of everyday life in Germany. He wants to open a shisha bar. When a friend expresses scepticism, he is stoned to death by the returnee – out of habit.
The channel's videos have been watched more than 11,000 times in total and have received mixed reviews: some viewers find them amusing, while others criticise the use of taxpayers' money.
Extremists in NRW 'still active'
NRW's Interior Minister Herbert Reul said in a press statement that the military defeat of the so-called caliphate of the Islamic State (IS) did not mean the 3,100 Salafist extremists living in Germany's most populous state had "vanished into thin air"."They are still active and use all channels on which they can find young people," Reul said.
He highlighted the importance of using the same online platforms to combat the radicalisation of young people. "A constitutional protection agency that takes its task of prevention seriously simply cannot opt out of being active on such platforms," Reul said. "We must go where our target group is."