Reviewing The Four Lions – Is Satire & Ridicule Used To Debunk Jihad?

The Akh needed some serious down time this weekend and decided to go and see Chris Morris’s 4 Lions at the cinema, yeah a great way to unwind, by watching a film about four would be jihadi’s.

Turns out the film in itself wasn’t too bad, yeah sure it had it’s laugh out loud moments, normally based on the extreme stereotypes of the moronic northerner, zealous “white” revert, gangsta rapper wannabe, holier than thou pious brother and of course the equally stupid and bumbling police/intelligence agencies.

Is the honey monster a bear scene with the police snipers, believing the heart over the head, the whole terror camp training and avoiding police surveillance skits were well crafted and delivered, the appearance of Omer’s (Riz Ahmed) “holier than thou” brother in law was sadly, an all too familiar character.

There were plenty of “injoke’s” throughout the film, one’s that I and a few others got that flew over the heads of the rest of the audience, either because they are not Muslims or more likely just don’t follow the war against Islam as closely as others do, hard to tell in a darkened cinema.

The “zealous white revert” character I referred to is Barry, played by Nigel Lindsay, as in the clip below:

To me, this character was based on one Abu Abdullah, right hand man of Abu Hamza.

Director Chris Morris has taken his research dead seriously ever since his public feud with the post 9/11’s cottage industry’s favourite literary Islamophobe Martin Amis, and on that point alone, I’ll give Morris his dues.

All that aside, there is a worrying theme that is being developed by the influential think tanks out there, no doubt inspired by their american cousins over at RAND, UK think tank DEMOS recently made public their report titled “The Edge of Violence”, which I’ve taken the liberty to embed below.

Jamie Bartlett, one of the co-authors of this report argues that:

“Satire and ridicule can help win the fight against Al-Qaeda by stripping it of its glamour and mystique.

Al-Qaeda has to be ridiculed as the equivalent of a middle-aged dad at a school disco: enthusiastic, incompetent and excruciatingly uncool.

Satire was another powerful tool, it had been used effectively against both the Ku Klux Klan and the British Fascist party in the 1930s.”

Films such as The Four Lions and the other recent release “The Infidel” as well as the recent debacle over the South Park cartoon are all attempts to achieve the aim set out in this report. My fear is that these are softeners, designed so that we lower our guard so when the “Muslim” version of a Life of Brian comes round, it will be accepted by all.

What these so-called ivory towers based researchers have failed to address is the issue of what is right and correct.

No one is drawn to groups like Al CIAda because they offer opportunities to live the life “of a petty criminal: tedious, lonely and punctuated by fear”, quite the opposite, it’s the obvious injustices, whether that is the invasion, colonisation, conquering and occupation of Muslim lands, or the hypocritical double standards that allow western governments to enforce gun point democracy or the constant propping up of stooge king’s and despot rulers across Muslim lands that gives such groups legitimacy and a following.

In the now all too familiar attempts to marginalise legitimate Muslim concerns, all of those who now rally against the all too readily acceptable form of racism, Islamophobia, are as par for the course labelled as “petty criminals, tedious, lonely and fearful”.

I’ll save you the trouble of reading the whole document, there is no mention of foreign policy, or the slaughter of Muslims across the globe, the illegal invasions and subsequent occupations for natural resources and geo-political advantage, the role of militant zionism and neo-conservatism or the exclusion and the marginalisation of Muslims on every level of society.

This obfuscatory plot is one that is designed to further malign Muslims and Islam, worse still, the paralysis of fear that is already endemic within Muslims will be heightened whereby any and all forms of resistance will be consigned to the same dusty book shelf where we keep our Quran’s, our obligations are on the verge of being abandoned and forgotten in the face of an enemy that will not cease it’s relentless pursuit of your soul.


Filed under 4GW, Arts & Media, Media Unspeak, Reports & Findings

2 responses to “Reviewing The Four Lions – Is Satire & Ridicule Used To Debunk Jihad?

  1. umm musa

    That is a solid point you have made there – and you made it well.
    Good job.

  2. Rosie


    I liked this article. Thanks for writing it.

    Personally, I think the film was quite sympathetic to the damage that suicide bombers do to their victims – perhaps if there had been a family walking into the drug store that Omar blew-up in the final scene that would have helped. The only people who you see killed by bombers are the guys who does the heimlich maneuver and the masked police men (as the owner of the kebab shop was killed by the police). The reality is that there would have been people in the drug store who Omar would have killed and, by not showing them, you avoid conveying the full nature of his behaviour.

    Did you find the wife’s perspective in the film plausible? Do you think that suicide bombers accomplish as much as, say, people who choose to devote themselves to prayer? Or choose not to support corporations whose values they don’t respect? e.g. carefully selecting their suppliers for food, clothing, minimise their oil usage, etc?

    The reality is that the holier-than-thou brother-in-law suspected what they were going to do and didn’t do anything about it other than confront him. If his brother-in-law had gone to the police, then a lot people wouldn’t have been killed.

    Personally, I think a lot of Islamic teachings could be really helpful in undermining capitalism and I think that really embracing those values could create a massive social change. For example, not paying people to lend money makes a lot of sense. Once ownership of money does not, in itself, provide an income, amassing wealth (which is what I personally view as a big issue for ensuring that everyone has enough) looses its attraction. In fact, things like local currencies could make a big difference to allowing corporations to behave so dysfunctionally. Have you seen the film “The Corporation”? I think in that film, the issue of corporate behaviours is well examined. As Pita Sharples, an NZ politician said when someone asked him about possible terror attacks in New Zealand “Overthrow who? Overthrow what?” and I couldn’t agree with him more. Just as Four Lions shows how there really is virtually nothing authorities can do to prevent suicide bombers (it has to be something that the community itself does), equally, there is virtually nothing bombers can do to overthrow corporations. Remember the demonstrations in 2003,_2003_anti-war_protest
    about the proposed war in Iraq? They had absolutely no effect. I don’t even think a bombing in the house of commons would have had any impact. LOADS of people didn’t want that war. The thing is, what did that demonstration achieve? Ultimately, there is an inconsistency with demonstrating against the war, but still wanting to drive a car (and wanting cheap petrol at that!). I think that, attractive as bold and definant acts are, the much more effective action is to create alternatives that do not simultaneously reward the enemy – you can’t expect governments to do anything but make decisions that get them re-elected. If large corporations are offering them well-paid places on their boards and supporting their campaigns, that’s who they’ll support. I am sure there are Muslims, and I would guess the majority, are quietly confident that by following their religion with faith, they are opposing capitalism in a much more effective way than a suicide bombing of superdrug ever could.

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