Taking on al Qaeda with comic strips?

March 25, 2008

Cover page from comic strip/interior ministry handoutInteresting piece by Reuters Security Correspondent Mark Trevelyan about German authorities using comic strips to combat the appeal of militant Islamism to European youths. The comic strip, distributed to schools in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, features Andi, his Muslim girlfriend Ayshe and her brother Murat, who comes under the influence of a radical friend and an Islamist “hate preacher”.

The idea is to offer young people an alternative world view to combat the “narrative” of al Qaeda. ”We have learned from our opponents. This is exactly the age at which the Islamists are trying, through Koranic schools and other means, to fill young people with other values,” says Hartwig Moeller, from the German state’s interior ministry.

Of course, some people will argue that in a world polarised by the Iraq war and the Middle East conflict amongst others, tackling militant Islamism with comic strips is at best lightweight, at worst a failure to understand the issues.

But Moeller says the project — which is already attracting interest elsewhere in Europe and in the United States – could win over the hearts and minds of some youngsters.

“If I get through to someone this way, and it makes him more critical of people who want to make him a jihadist, then I’ve stopped him at some point committing terrorist attacks or going to a terrorist camp in Afghanistan or Pakistan,” he said. “Maybe he won’t slide off into this milieu — that’s the idea.”

What do you think? Read the full story here.

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