The power of funny: Bassem Youssef tells CNN we should fight ISIS with satire

Published June 18th, 2015 - 04:00 GMT
Egyptian satirist Bassem Youssef, former host of Al Bernameg, took the reigns of CNN’s Connect The World on Monday to speak about using satire as a weapon against ISIS.
“Hello my name is Bassem Youssef. Welcome back to Connect The World. I’m your new host because I’m in Dubai and Becky Anderson is nowhere to be found so I’m taking over the program,” he jokes.
“No, no, no, hang on a minute! Bassem, welcome to my show!” Anderson laughs.
Anderson explains that Youssef has inspired many new and homegrown Arab satirists who are now poking fun at ISIS. She showed a short clip of two Syrian refugees in Turkey pretending to be part of the terrorist organization, asking each other how to kill people and not feel guilty. The two decide to kill in the name of religion.
“I think satire is incredible because basically it takes down this kind of fear from the hearts of people and when you take away the fear through laughter, they aren’t scary anymore,” Youssef says.
Youssef clarifies that satire doesn’t solve the problem, but rather brings more people to the table to think about the danger. Fighting ISIS should go to the root of the problem, Youssef says, which is the result of extremist ideas left to fester under Arab regimes. “The solution could not just be military or security-wise. It has to be more of a culture war. It has to be more of an intellectual war,” he explains.
“Part of the fight against ISIS should be through art, should be through comedy, through satire, through freedom of speech and expression,” Youssef adds.
Youssef has been based in the United States since his satire show was pulled off air due to the controversy of criticizing the current military regime. His popularity in his new host country has grown as he is now serving as a resident Havard fellow and has been announced as host of the International Emmy Awards this coming November 23 in New York.

By Drew Brammer for CNN

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