Photo by Carschten (Wikimedia Commons)
Jesus H Christ, these Muslims, they can't take a joke, eh? This week, the German media went into meltdown again because a Muslim complained about something. This Muslim was called Erhat Toka, and he pressed charges against the Kabarettist Dieter Nuhr because he felt offended by some of his routines about Islamist terrorists. Three things to say about this: 1) Toka does not represent any German Muslim organization or any other Muslims except himself, and 2) he did not impose a fatwa, or invoke sharia law, or try and get other Muslims to kill Dieter Nuhr – instead he went to the state prosecutor and said that he felt offended. In other words, he followed German law, and made use of a right he has under the constitution. Integration at work! Anyway, his charges will almost certainly be thrown out by the prosecutors. And 3) Dieter Nuhr has been doing these jokes for YEARS on stage and TV and has never had any trouble before. In fact, Toka brought his charges months ago in his home town of Osnabrück, but they only made the news this week because he gathered about 30 other Muslims to mount a little protest about it. Then he went home and may or may not have felt better about himself.
The man is almost certainly a dogmatic fool who is not getting enough sex, but this wasn't Salman Rushdie or the case of the Danish cartoonists. No one threatened to kill anyone. Still, his mini-protest was enough to spark another massive panicky clusterfuck of opinion columns. As is its way, the media created a controversy just so it could report that there is a controversy and then follow up those reports with millions of opinion pieces to squeeze the last bit of pus out of the controversy. This is the media's way. It knows no other.
For what it's worth, I agree with most of the op-eds. I agree that we should stand up for the right to take the piss out of barbaric religious doctrine, and I agree with Cem Özdemir, who said on his Facebook page that it was time we should have a Muslim version of Life of Brian. Though Özdemir might have noted that there are satirists in Arab countries who take the piss out of Islamists in exactly the same way Nuhr does. Egypt, for example, has been doing comedy for decades. There's the 1994 Egyptian movie The Terrorist, about a radical Islamist who has to go undercover in a modern Egyptian family. I haven't seen it, so I don't know if it's actually funny, but then again hardly any Germans have because it's never been on TV or in the cinema here. More recently, there was "Egypt's Jon Stewart" Bassem Youssef, who regularly took the piss out of the Muslim Brotherhood on his show. The point is it's patently not true that Arabs can't take a joke (even though the Muslim Brotherhood can't – they tried and failed to arrest Youssef when they were in power).
I even agree with Abdul Adhim Kamouss, described in German newspapers as the "controversial imam", who said this on his Facebook page:
"Why do we make such a big deal of it when X or Y makes fun of our Prophet? Why do we give these scoffers our attention? Won't Muslims ever stop making themselves the victims?"
This is interesting because Kamouss is the same imam who was on Günther Jauch a few weeks ago, and made by the ARD to look like he was an extremist "hate-preacher," and is considered a Salafist by the Verfassungsschutz.
Anyway, here's my personal take: I think it's a bit unfair for German newspapers to wag their fingers and demand that people "get" German political Kabarett if they want to live in Germany. It's really hard. Even if you're really good at German and read enough newspapers to get all the references, you soon realize that Kabarett is not actually funny. Kabarett consists of someone making some fairly reasonable points while raising an eyebrow in a knowing way. Germans laugh lustily, but any normal person's reaction to Kabarett is to make a nasal noise and say, "Oh yeah, I never thought of it that way." It's a cultural difference. You might as well force a load of English expats to watch one of those German plays where everyone gets their willy out for no reason.
The point of religion is to make a fetish of all the worst things in life: death, war, poverty, suicide, weddings, and not having any sex, but even God, if he exists, should be able to take a joke, and if he can't, he can always make all the satirists die of cancer and send them to hell. So Erhat Toka shouldn't worry so much, but neither should Germans worry that one Muslim is going to take away their precious Kabarett. They should all just chill out. And stop reading fucking Focus and believing what Günther Jauch says.