German Authorities Use Comic to Combat Extremism
In the great book Freakonomics, one of my favorite stories is the one detailing how the writers of the old Superman TV show used a storyline to give a negative depiction of the Ku Klux Klan, and that alone was one of the most effective methods of turning public opinion against the Klan.
That story came to mind when I came across a couple of articles detailing efforts to combat Islamic extremism through comics.
In Egypt, Hands Across the Mideast Support Alliance has been distributing copies of an Arabic edition of a 50-year-old comic based on Martin Luther King Jr.’s life. The comic is available for download in Arabic and English from the HAMSA Web site.
"The Montgomery Story" was published in 1958 and helped inspire the American civil-rights movement in the 1960s. In 2008, it was translated and designed by young reformers in the Mideast. It features full-color panels depicting the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a campaign to end segregation on buses in the capitol of Alabama. The comic book ends with a section on “how the Montgomery Method works,” outlining essential techniques of nonviolence.
I also came across this article in the Globe and Mail on a comic book designed to combat Islamic extremism produced by officials in a north-German state. The comic, Andi, follows a youth who dates a Muslim girl, and the girl’s brother comes under the sway of an Islamist "hate preacher." (Apologies for the small cover image, below, but it was all I could track down.)
The comic is distributed to schools and is intended for an audience from 12 to 16-years-old. It’s available online in PDF form right here. I learned German in grade school, but sadly since then my knowledge of the language has wittled away to a few numbers and swear words, so I couldn’t read the two available issues.
The article says Muslim response to the project has been positive. From the article:
The comic, printed in 100,000 copies and distributed to every secondary school in Germany’s most populous state, aims to show young people the difference between peaceful mainstream Islam and the violent, intolerant version peddled by militants.
"We were always careful not to hurt feelings and anger people by painting a caricature of Islam," said Hartwig Moeller, head of the NRW Interior Ministry. "We had to make clear we weren’t aiming against Muslims, but only those people who want to misuse Islam for political aims."
It's interesting to see how comics are being used around the world to not only entertain, but to teach, inform, indoctrinate and misinform.Recently ComicMix published two articles about a South Korean comic that was found to contain several Anti-Semitic passages.http://www.comicmix.com/news/2007/03/15/south-kor…This article details how the publisher and author of a Korean Educational Comic with Anti-Semitic passages met with Rabbi Abraham Cooper from the Simon Wiesenthal Center. The publisher and author not only agreed to alter the current comics and put more research and consideration into future efforts, but also agreed to publish a Korean translation of a comic from the Wiesenthal Center that reveal Anti-Semitic mistruths.http://www.comicmix.com/news/2008/03/17/south-kor…This article details how the same South Korean comic appeared in a report from U.S. State Department.I took a look at "Andi." It seemed interesting, maybe a bit preachy. I can't read German, but the comic has LONG text passages. Since it's being distributed for free in Germany and pdf files of the comic are available on the net … I wonder if ComicMix would be interested in hosting an English translation of "Andi."
You posted the cover of the first Andi comic, which was dealing with right-wing extremism. You can find more information on both comics here: <a href="http://www.andi.nrw.de.” target=”_blank”>www.andi.nrw.de.
Actually it was the Superman radio show, not tv show, that took on the Klan.