WBEZ | cartoons http://www.wbez.org/tags/cartoons Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Former Islamic Extremist Tries to Save Others From His Mistakes with Online Cartoon http://www.wbez.org/news/former-islamic-extremist-tries-save-others-his-mistakes-online-cartoon-114453 <p><p>Abdullah-X is a cartoon character who speaks with the accent of a working class Londoner.</p><p>But this bearded, honey-hued Muslim millennial also talks about crucial issues of the day &mdash; like Jihad, the Muslim identity,&nbsp;Islamophobia&nbsp;and terrorism &mdash; with a bit of an attitude.</p><p>&quot;If you can&#39;t tell when you&#39;re sold propaganda, then you run the risk of becoming propaganda yourself,&quot; he says in one video.</p><p>&quot;Have you not found a more constructive way to support the innocent people of Syria compared to trying to go out there and fight there to simulate some video game that you feel you have to enact in real life?&quot; he asks in another segment.</p><p>In the most recent video posted on Dec. 17, titled &quot;Trump and the Daeshbags,&quot; he says: &quot;Just when I thought my job here was done, the world goes on and gives me Trump.&quot;</p><p><strong>Taking the fight online</strong></p><p>&quot;The Abdullah-X Show&quot; on YouTube is the creation of a former Islamic extremist who says he was attracted precisely to the kind of ideology terrorists espouse these days.</p><p>He asked to remain anonymous out of concerns for his safety.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20Shot%202016-01-05%20at%2010.35.55%20AM.png" style="height: 155px; width: 310px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;" title="Abdullah-X, the cartoon character. (Courtesy of Abdullah-X)" />The man, who today lives in east London,&nbsp;knows that today&#39;s extremists aren&#39;t preaching from a pulpit, in a park or at a street corner, but gaining direct access into living rooms and bedrooms through social media sites.</p><p>For a little over two years now, the creator of Abdullah-X has tried to provide a counter-narrative to the massive ISIS propaganda machine online, which bombards youth with its narrative of violence &mdash; using anything from cooking channels to its own version of the Grand Theft Auto video game.</p><p><strong>ISIS responds</strong></p><p>In the summer of 2014, an Abdullah-X video titled &quot;Five Considerations for a Muslim on Syria,&quot; got a 5,000-word response from an ISIS operative, a seemingly desperate effort to challenge the counter-narrative.</p><p>More than 60,000 people viewed that video.</p><p>&quot;For a project such as Abdullah-X, which is avant-garde and pretty nuanced, those aren&#39;t bad metrics,&quot; he said. &quot;We&#39;re not assuming that this is about reaching masses of people because masses aren&#39;t vulnerable to these issues.</p><p>&quot;But if one young man who suddenly sees an Abdullah-X advert flash across his screen and clicks on it, it might just save him a plane ticket.&quot;</p><p>News of Abdullah-X&#39;s success reached the White House in February during its Summit on Countering Violent Extremism. During this summit, President Barack Obama talked about the significant role former extremists can play in countering terrorism. Abdullah-X&#39;s creator has felt energized not just by the encouragement from the president, but also from the powerful reaction his cartoon character managed to get from ISIS.</p><p>&quot;The fact is that one of the most powerful terrorist organizations in the world felt the need to respond to a cartoon character,&quot; he said. &quot;The point of Abdullah-X is to plant the seed of critical thinking in the minds of young people who are out there, believing that Google is God.&quot;</p><p><strong>In and out of extremism</strong></p><p>He wasn&#39;t happy with the way he looked, where he was and how he was treated. So, the way into extremist networks was &quot;fairly simple&quot; for the man who created Abdullah-X.</p><p>His purpose in life at the time was to &quot;gain the pleasure of Allah.&quot; And that meant limiting his parents&#39; influence on him, becoming more withdrawn, keeping quiet about what he was learning and slowly taking on a politicized mantra.</p><p>&quot;Eventually, that narrative led me to bring out all the pent up anger that I had about myself and I tried to cast that stone on everyone else,&quot; he said.</p><p>He became an &quot;entry-level recruiter&quot; for Islamic extremist networks in London. He was most active with candidates between the ages of 16 and 29. He hung around college cafeterias and became good at spotting others like him &mdash; bitter, angry and lacking in confidence.</p><p>&quot;My job was to bring them into the ideology and then move them along.&quot;</p><p>Some of the men he recruited went on to commit violent acts. The extremist networks to which he brought fresh recruits served as &quot;shopping windows for terrorist groups,&quot; he said.</p><p>While the way in was easy, the way out was long, painful and complicated, he said.</p><p>It was not an epiphany, but a gradual thought process spread over three years that showed him the exit, he recalls. The turning point came when he realized how his ideology had turned his own neighbors into his enemies and how far he had strayed from the true teachings of Islam.</p><p>&quot;I realized I&#39;d become a pawn in someone else&#39;s chess game,&quot; he said. &quot;And I&#39;d always dreamed of being a knight.&quot;</p><p><strong>Putting experience to work</strong></p><div class="image-insert-image "><img a="" abdullah-x="" alt="" and="" class="image-original_image" counter-narrative="" extremist="" ideology="" is="" muslims="" program="" propaganda.="" provide="" seeks="" sonia="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AbdullahX_Sonia%20Narang_2.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" that="" the="" title="&quot;The Abdullah-X Show&quot; is a YouTube program that seeks to provide young Muslims with a counter-narrative to extremist ideology and propaganda. ( Sonia Narang)" to="" with="" young="" youtube="" /></div><p>Now, as a former extremist who is fighting the very ideology he once preached, the creator of Abdullah-X knows that between then and now, the terrorists&#39; narratives haven&#39;t changed.</p><p>&quot;If you&#39;ve been one of those people, you actually know exactly what they want to achieve and how they want to achieve it,&quot; he said. &quot;So, I&#39;m not afraid to put out content that young people definitely need to hear.&quot;</p><p>He also interacts &quot;offline&quot; with young people in schools and colleges, identifying himself as a former extremist, having conversations with youth about issues such as the true meaning of Jihad, the dangers of extremism and the backlash against Muslims after terrorist attacks, most recently in Paris and San Bernardino.</p><p>&quot;The stuff they are searching for on Google is often the same stuff they ask you about when you are standing before them in a classroom,&quot; he says.</p><p>One question he often encounters: &quot;Brother, is it OK to discuss jihad?&quot;</p><p>His answer: &quot;It&#39;s OK, brother, as long as you know which jihad you&#39;re discussing.&quot;</p><p>Jihad, he said, has become a dirty word in mainstream media.</p><p>&quot;I try to put out content that hopefully one day will bring us back to the true meaning of jihad, the greater jihad being one of self-struggle,&quot; he said.</p><p><strong>Grassroots effort</strong></p><p>Grassroots efforts against extremism&nbsp;such as Abdullah-X, which use the media of animation, graphic novels, music and even video games, are much more powerful than posts on the US&nbsp;State Department&#39;s Twitter account, said London-based counter-terrorism expert Ross Frenett.</p><p>&quot;Government sites have that finger-wagging approach,&quot; he said. &quot;But initiatives such as Abdullah-X are far more effective because they genuinely come from within the community and make an honest effort to speak the language of their target audience.&quot;</p><p>Very little currently exists to fight ISIS&#39;&nbsp;propaganda machine online, said Daniel Kohler, director of the Berlin-based German Institute on Radicalization and De-radicalization Studies.</p><p>&quot;There are statistics showing that the Islamic State produces 30 to 40 Hollywood-quality videos every day and sends them out on social media,&quot; he said. &quot;So, there is really very little out there to fight that kind of propaganda.&quot;</p><p><strong>The future of X</strong></p><p>Abdullah-X&#39;s creator plans to do more. He&#39;s already released &quot;The Adventures of Abdullah-X: The Complete Graphic Novel.&quot; And he is getting ready to launch Muslima X, a character, who he hopes will be able to speak to young Muslim women who are drawn to radicalism.</p><p>&quot;Muslima X has superpowers,&quot; he said. &quot;She can sense when people are turning toward hate and anger and she has two friends she has helped rescue from the allure of ISIS messaging.&quot;</p><p>He hopes Abdullah-X will inspire other characters who will &quot;carry on that flame of reason.&quot;</p><p>&quot;Because&nbsp;without reason, there is only madness,&quot; he said.</p><p>Much of this work has helped him heal too.</p><p>&quot;One of the most transformative experiences I&#39;ve had is being brave enough and open enough to share my own good and bad experiences and why I got involved in extremism and why I got out of it,&quot; he said. &quot;For me, the doing has become the healing.&quot;</p><p>This story was produced with help from the International Women&#39;s Media Foundation through the Howard G. Buffett Fund for Women Journalists.</p><p>&mdash;<em><a href="http://www.pri.org/stories/2016-01-06/former-islamic-extremists-tries-save-others-his-mistakes-popular-online-cartoon" target="_blank">&nbsp;via PRI&#39;s The World</a></em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 12 Jan 2016 14:07:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/former-islamic-extremist-tries-save-others-his-mistakes-online-cartoon-114453 Many Arab cartoonists have responded to the tragedy in Paris with a sense of shared grief http://www.wbez.org/news/many-arab-cartoonists-have-responded-tragedy-paris-sense-shared-grief-113825 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/WALED-TAHER-2478.jpg" alt="" /><p><div><p>The French Tricolour has been emblazoned on landmarks as varied as London&#39;s Tower Bridge to Sydney&#39;s iconic opera house and featured in&nbsp;hundreds of political cartoons drawn in response to the vicious attacks in Paris last Friday. Satirists in the Arab and Muslim world are responding with different visual metaphors.&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Lebanon looks in the mirror and sees France and says, &amp;quot;Dear Mother, I hope that you heal.&amp;quot; Cartoonist Arman Hamsy is illustrating the close historical ties between Lebanon and France. France ruled Lebanon under the French Mandate from 1920 until the end o" src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/original_image/public/Guyer1_Mirror_0.jpg?itok=f-5ZDbtx" style="height: 310px; width: 310px; float: left; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="Lebanon looks in the mirror and sees France and says, &quot;Dear Mother, I hope that you heal.&quot; Cartoonist Arman Hamsy is illustrating the close historical ties between Lebanon and France. France ruled Lebanon under the French Mandate from 1920 until the end of World War II. (Arman Hamsy, Al-Nahar, Lebanon)" typeof="foaf:Image" /></p><div><p>Jonathan Guyer is a fellow with the&nbsp;<a href="http://http//www.icwa.org/" target="_blank">Institute of Current World Affairs</a>&nbsp;and a&nbsp;scholar of satire in the Middle East.&nbsp;&nbsp;&quot;I saw a cartoon in the Lebanese newspaper&nbsp;<a href="http://assafir.com/" target="_blank">As-Safir</a>. It shows a&nbsp;map of&nbsp;Lebanon looking in the mirror and seeing a map of France saying, &#39;Dear Mother, I hope that you heal.&#39;&quot;</p></div></div><p>Some Lebanese have felt slighted by the global embrace of Paris in the wake of the multi-prong attack by ISIS on Friday. Just a day earlier, 45 people died in Beirut in a brazen suicide bombing aimed at&nbsp;people, just like in Paris, who were just&nbsp;going about their daily business.&nbsp;&nbsp;The global response was anemic.&nbsp;Guyer acknowledges the difference in how the world reacted to the two incidents but says anger is not the emotion coming through in Arab&nbsp;political cartoons.</p><p>&#39;&#39;I&nbsp;think this really is about a connection between two cities more than a divisive set of events. It shows that terror, when any place in the world is struck, has an impact globally.&quot;</p><p>One of the most powerful images Guyer has seen was drawn by&nbsp;Anwar, a young cartoonist from Egypt. &quot;It shows a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.almasryalyoum.com/caricatures/details/9669" target="_blank">man wiping blood off of a window.</a>&nbsp;It&#39;s covered in this bright red blood. The caption says: &#39;From Baghdad to Beirut to Paris.&#39;&nbsp;My reading of it is that all blood is the same blood, whether it&#39;s Iraqi blood, Lebanese blood or Parisian blood. And it&#39;s this unifying message of when one of us suffers, we all suffer.&quot;</p><p>Guyer says for the past year or so, Arab and Muslim cartoonists have taken on ISIS, making fun of their so-called piety,&nbsp;their craven tactics and using them as a punchline. &quot;There&#39;s really no red line in the Middle East about making fun of ISIS.&quot; &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><div><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="In this cartoon, two men chat. One says, &amp;quot;How&amp;#039;s it going?&amp;quot; The other answers: &amp;quot;Fine!&amp;quot; The word &amp;#039;terrorism&amp;#039; is superimposed onto their limbs. From the artist’s point of view, terrorism is simply part of daily life." src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/original_image/public/WALED-TAHER-2478.jpg?itok=eYd-1mEP" style="height: 377px; width: 500px;" title="In this cartoon, two men chat. One says, &quot;How's it going?&quot; The other answers: &quot;Fine!&quot; The word 'terrorism' is superimposed onto their limbs. From the artist’s point of view, terrorism is simply part of daily life. (Waled Taher, Al-Shorouk, Egypt) " typeof="foaf:Image" /></p><div><p>Some Arab world cartoons&nbsp;also betray a sense of resignation about terrorism.&nbsp;After Friday&#39;s bloodbath in Paris,&nbsp;Egyptian cartoonist Walid Taher republished a cartoon he originally drew last winter. In the cartoon,&nbsp;the word terrorism is spelled out on the two men&#39;s limbs while they greet each other as if nothing&#39;s happened.&nbsp;</p></div></div><p>Guyer says one depressing but predictable Arab world response to the Paris attacks are&nbsp;conspiracy comics. &quot;There&#39;s also a whole genre of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Israel-behind-Paris-attacks-cartoons-on-Palestinian-social-media-insinuate-434254" target="_blank">conspiracy comics</a>&nbsp;which are totally ridiculous that show ISIS as the puppetry of the west or a zionist conspiracy. Obviously these are ridiculous notions but actually appear quite a lot in the Arab press.&quot;</p><div><img alt="Algerian cartoonist Le Hic uses the powerful imagery of Aylan Kurdi, the young boy who was found dead on a Turkish beach after drowning while trying to migrate to Europe. Aylan Kurdi&amp;#039;s image moved the world and Le Hic is making two points: those who died " src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/original_image/public/Guyer_LeHic.jpg?itok=azrq0uGR" style="height: 310px; width: 500px;" title="Algerian cartoonist Le Hic uses the powerful imagery of Aylan Kurdi, the young boy who was found dead on a Turkish beach after drowning while trying to migrate to Europe. Aylan Kurdi's image moved the world and Le Hic is making two points: those who died in Paris are as precious as Aylan Kurdi. He's also suggesting that more people like Aylan Kurdi could die if European countries react to the ISIS attacks in Paris by closing their borders. (Le Hic, Algeria)" typeof="foaf:Image" /><div><p>The aftermath of terrorist attacks is always a tricky time for political cartoonists, says Guyer.&nbsp;&quot;What I would say is it&#39;s very difficult to encapsulate the complexity and nuance of an attack whether it be&nbsp;on Paris, Beirut or Baghdad.&quot;</p></div></div><p>Guyer feels like many artists have dumbed down the meaning of the Paris attacks, making it all about the colors of the French flag.&nbsp;&quot;I would love to see more comics and cartoons that take on personal reactions of what&#39;s happened and how people feel about it, messages&nbsp;that goes beyond simple notions of nation states,&quot; he says.</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://admin.pri.org/stories/2015-11-17/many-arab-cartoonists-have-responded-tragedy-paris-sense-shared-grief" target="_blank"><em> via PRI&#39;s The World</em></a></p></p> Tue, 17 Nov 2015 13:53:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/many-arab-cartoonists-have-responded-tragedy-paris-sense-shared-grief-113825 Artist Hebru Brantley brings his pop culture leanings to his work http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-03-30/artist-hebru-brantley-discusses-serious-side-his-illustrations-84481 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2011-March/2011-03-30/HB-flyboy.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Head into Hebru Brantley’s latest exhibition and you might find yourself full of a childlike glee. The images and sculptures are cartoon-like with bright colors, figures flying through the air and paintings of young wide-eyed kids clutching Kermit the Frog dolls. Brantley doesn’t shy away from his pop culture leanings. And he likes his cartoons. But there’s also a serious side to his work in <em>Afrofuturism: Impossible View</em>. Brantley met <em>Eight Forty-Eight's</em> Alison Cuddy at his show – which is up at the <a href="http://www.zbcenter.org/" target="_blank">Zhou B. Art Center</a> in Bridgeport.</p><p><em>Music Button: The Afro Soul Tet, "Aphro Boogaloo", from the CD Presenting the Afro Soul Tet, (Ubiquity)</em></p></p> Wed, 30 Mar 2011 14:05:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-03-30/artist-hebru-brantley-discusses-serious-side-his-illustrations-84481