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Mini Daesh: Prank Show Depicting ISIS Hostage Situation a New Low for Egyptian Television

June 14, 2016

A few short days after a video popularized by the Daily Mail showed an Islamic State fighter threatening to destroy the Pyramids of Giza, social media was abuzz once more with news related to the terrorist group. Although the former incident threatened the crown jewel of Egypt’s tourism and ancient history, the latter – namely the circulation of an episode of a show entitled Mini Daesh – was far more disturbing.

Yes, you read that right – the show is called Mini Daesh (Mini ISIS).

Aside from its horribly evident cheap production (using firecrackers hardly measures up to a “suicide belt”), this show makes a mockery of a threat that has torn up the region, displaced hundreds of thousands and claimed scores of innocent lives – and that Egypt has repeatedly pointed to as a reason for its clampdown on freedoms.

This is a show that was created in Egypt, the country whose officials have time and time again pointed to terrorism as the reason behind the security crackdown that has seen hundreds of innocent youths rounded up and thrown into prisons. The same country that is spending millions of precious dollars to buy weaponry in the name of warding off the terrorism that is threatening its citizens. The same country that has been almost pathologically obsessed with controlling the contents of books, television shows and even Facebook statuses to avoid “harming public morals.”

I don’t care much for peddling the usual route of asking, “What will foreigners think of us?” because I think Egyptian public opinion is of far greater significance. Why is our ability to differentiate between right and wrong inextricably connected to how we want outsiders to perceive us, rather than being based on intrinsic values? Are our priorities that warped?

The only thing worse is the idea that this kind of “humor” is what it takes to crack up Egyptian viewers, and I unfortunately see that this is currently the case. Upon visiting the Facebook page of Mini Daesh‘s “star,” the plethora of comments hailing the videos as “hilarious” and “legendary” made me sick to my stomach.

Ramez Galal – arguably the forefather of Mini Daesh – and his idiotic pranks have elicited a large number of groans and a substantial outcry amongst Egyptians, yet Galal and his pranks make an annual return to the small screen each Ramadan, with each year’s prank more disgusting and unhumorous than the year before.

The fact that Galal’s show has returned this many times means that enough people continue to watch it for sponsors to continue funneling money into the show, and it seems that being armed with enough money can help anyone get whatever they want on air. I believe we learned that lesson from the likes of Ahmed Moussa and Tawfik Okasha. As awful as Moussa and Okasha are and as much as I would like to erase the memory of their existence from our collective consciousness, their on-air antics don’t nearly measure up to the horridness of Ramez Galal’s show, and truly seem like good television in comparison to Mini Daesh. 

Shame on the makers of Mini Daesh for ever coming up with and pitching this idea. Shame on the owners of what seems to be the sole television channel that airs this show for being facilitators and for believing that this is the kind of television content that is appropriate for the holy month of Ramadan – or any other point in time. Shame on the regulatory agencies that seem to otherwise be very skilled at cutting inappropriate content (read: kissing and gambling) before it makes it to Egyptian screens but then shrugging at an entire show dedicated to turning a very real threat into a show for entertainment purposes.

Most of all, shame on each and every person who continues to watch this disgusting excuse for entertainment, whether because they believe it’s morally correct to laugh at something that has caused so many people such deep misery, or simply because they do not realize how much power they have as viewers. All it really takes is shrugging off the feeling of morbid curiosity and refraining from watching these shows – a show is nothing without viewers.

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