• ‘Selfie’ Is The Arab World’s Hot New Show, And ISIS Hates It

    One satire TV show is causing a stir in the Middle East, mocking Islamic State, confronting the Sunni-Shiite divide and sparing no taboo.

    Precisely because “Selfie” confronts such dicey topics, daring to satirize the gruesome jihadi organization, it has garnered impressive ratings. But backlash has been severe. Lead actor, Naser al-Qasabi, and top writer, Khalaf al-Harbi, received death threats from Islamic State supporters online, The Associated Press reports.

    Qasabi, 53, isn’t alarmed.

    “God is my protector. I’m an artist, and the artist’s essential role is to reveal society’s challenges even if he pays a price,” Qasabi told Al-Arabiya. “Warning the people about ISIS is the true jihad, because we’re fighting them with art not war.”

    The cast of "Selfie"The cast of “Selfie”

    In one episode, Qasabi’s character attempts to start an Islamic State-style militia but is weighed down by inept partners. The caliph, played by Qasabi, pleads for an execution method distinct from Islamic State, suggesting hostages be put in a freezer, according to the AP.

    But Selfie’s dark humor doesn’t end there. Another episode showed a father trying to rescue his son from Islamic State in Syria, only to join the terror group himself.

    In a third episode, two Saudis bond in an airport abroad until realizing one is Sunni and the other Shiite Muslim. After police discover they are fighting over an ancient religious schism, the Saudis are sent to a mental hospital.

    Saudi TV series "Selfie" mocks Islamic State.  (Credit: Screen grab of "Selfie" episodes on MBC website) Saudi TV series “Selfie” mocks Islamic State. (Credit: Screen grab of “Selfie” episodes on MBC website)

    The show seeks to portray a snapshot of Arab society, hence the title, Harbi told the AP. Selfie’s 45-minute episodes are broadcast on the privately-owned, pan-Arab TV station, Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC).

    Selfie is debuting during Ramadan, when TV shows in the Arab world reach their highest viewership. Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, breaking the period after sundown with a meal known as “iftar.” During this time, many people watch TV with family and friends.

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