Egyptians Fight ISIS Fear-Mongering With Punchlines And Parody : Parallels Some Egyptians have decided to fight back against ISIS propaganda with parodies of the militant group's gruesome videos.
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Egyptians Fight ISIS Fear-Mongering With Punchlines And Parody

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Egyptians Fight ISIS Fear-Mongering With Punchlines And Parody

Egyptians Fight ISIS Fear-Mongering With Punchlines And Parody

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Some people in Egypt are trying to counter the shock and horror caused by grotesque ISIS propaganda videos that show people being beheaded, a man burned alive and other violence. Egyptians and others in the region are responding with parodies. NPR's Leila Fadel reports they're trying to fight the fear.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Singing).

LEILA FADEL, BYLINE: This melody is kind of the ISIS anthem for all its videos. The soundtrack, if you will, of its brutality. It strikes horror in the Middle East, especially in Egypt after the beheading of some 20 Egyptians by ISIS in Libya last month. But now, people in the Middle East are trying to make it into a punch line as a way to fight back. Videos mocking the ISIS propaganda are popping up all over the Internet. In some of the parodies, the melody morphs into a dance song and people pretending to be ISIS militants holding fake swords to kneeling captors' necks burst into dance. The dark and in some people's opinions, distasteful humor, is aimed at defying ISIS. Instead of fear, people are trying to laugh. The most famous example of this came a couple weeks ago, from newlyweds about two hours north of Cairo.

AHMED SHEHATA: (Foreign language spoken).

FADEL: Ahmed Shehata is a young doctor who wanted to surprise his wife on their wedding day. We meet him in their newly-furnished apartment.

SHEHATA: (Foreign language spoken).

FADEL: He says his wife, Shaimaa Daif, was having nightmares after watching ISIS videos, so Shehata hatched a plan with his wife's brother and caught it on camera.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (Singing).

FADEL: The groom's buddies, led by the bride's brother, burst into the wedding masked and carrying plastic knives. ISIS's anthem blasts from the speakers and the masked men put a cage on the dance floor and lock the couple inside. As soon as they're behind bars, the music switches to popular dance music and the couple start shaking their hips.

SHEHATA: (Foreign language spoken).

FADEL: Shehata says he wanted to take away the power the videos had over his wife. And he did - she doesn't have nightmares anymore.

SHAIMAA DAIF: (Foreign language spoken).

FADEL: She sits nearby and laughs. "I knew there was going to be a wedding surprise," she says, "but I didn't know it would be ISIS."

DAIF: (Foreign language spoken).

FADEL: The video has gone viral. She says the point wasn't to make light of the tragic deaths at the hands of ISIS, but to tell ISIS that people aren't afraid - they're going to make videos, and dance, and play music and ridicule the militants. But for some, it doesn't mean much. Hanna Aziz Kamel is an Egyptian Christian who was nearly taken by ISIS in Libya. His friends and relatives were beheaded in a video that is now the subject of parody.

HANNA AZIZ KAMEL: (Foreign language spoken).

FADEL: Reached by phone, he says, "the parodies aren't offensive, but they aren't effective either. It's like throwing little pebbles at a monster," he says. "Once you provoke the monster, then what?" Leila Fadel, NPR News, Cairo.

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