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Top 5 ISIL parody videos

‘SNL’ isn’t first to lampoon ISIL; videos from across Middle East have gone viral despite danger of mocking armed group

The clever "Saturday Night Live" take on the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has won praise for combating the armed group’s threatening and often horrifying videos with satire — but it’s far from unique. A flurry of dark and irreverent ISIL parody videos made in the Middle East have also been making the rounds. 

SNL’s two-minute parody aired Saturday and spoofs a Toyota commercial in which an American father chokes back tears as he drops his daughter off at an airport, where she’s met by men in fatigues. Presumably, she’s off to join the military.

SNL lampooned the commercial by replacing the men in military uniforms with bearded combatants sitting in the back of a pickup truck that’s adorned with ISIL’s black flag.

The daughter, played by “Fifty Shades of Grey” star Dakota Johnson, assures her father she’ll be safe ("Dad, it’s just ISIS"), and makes her way over to the armed men. Her father, Taran Killam, tearfully tells one of the fighters, Kyle Mooney, "Take care of her," to which he calmly replies, "Death to America."

The moment shared between the two men looks as heartwarming as it is ridiculous. It has also been seen as a brilliant commentary on ISIL’s success in attracting Western recruits, and on its profound ability to promote itself to sympathizers in the same vein as the U.S. military: a defensive force necessary to preserve their national values and particular way of life.

However, SNL is not the first comedy sketch group to confront ISIL’s extreme violence and ideology with satire. In the Middle East — including communities most at risk by the armed group — comedians have targeted ISIL for its brutality, its literal interpretation of Islam, and its hypocrisy. 

Below are five ISIL parody videos that have gone viral in the Middle East.

1. Targeting everyone but Israel

One of the most popular ISIL parody videos comes from Palestinian sketch comedy group Watan ala Watar. In the video, ISIL fighters man a checkpoint where they stop and harass passersby with terribly difficult questions about Islam. Those unable to answer, or who answer incorrectly, are promptly killed.

After the combatants kill two Muslim men, they begin fighting over who will be allowed to kill a "Jordanian Christian" man, apparently believing they will receive "blessings" for doing so. After arguing back and forth for a while, the Jordanian Christian offers a solution: “You shoot one bullet, and he shoots the other. This way, both of you will get the blessings.”

But struck with fear, the man dies of a heart attack, leaving the fighters in tears because neither can kill him.

At the end of the video, the fighters grant a man claiming to be an Israeli easy passage through the checkpoint. The video is commentary on the widespread belief that ISIL is fighting everyone but the “real enemy,” Israel, and leaves viewers to wonder why.

2. Kurds: ISIL has 'no future'

While Kurdish paramilitary forces have been fighting ISIL on the battlefield in Iraq and Syria, Kurdish television station KurdSat TV has been combatting the armed group by lampooning it in music videos.

Its most popular video features ISIL fighters playing their guns like guitars and dancing with skulls and swords. The lyrics they sing portray group members as stupid and violent.

Nowhere is this more prominent than in the song's final verse: "Our Caliph is bearded, and our brains are upside-down. Our hope is to kill, that’s why we have no future." It is followed by the humorous chorus, "We are ISIL. We are ISIL. We milk the goat even if it is male."

3. ISIL fighters as social misfits

Post by AJ+.

In this clip from Jordanian YouTube sensation Kharabeesh — “How do you make a Da’eshi (ISIL fighter)?” — the self-proclaimed “holy warriors” of ISIL are reduced to Lego figurines mass-produced in a factory.

In a jab at the religio-historical glory that ISIL offers in its recruiting propaganda, the video explains that in fact, ISIL recruits are little more than cannon fodder (suicide bombers, to be more specific) created in a cookie-cutter mold: high-school dropouts who get into alcohol, drugs and crime, miss out on jobs and “life’s opportunities,” and stew in their own discontent. “After a period of fermentation, the result is a highly depressed and desperate Da’eshi,” the video explains. 

4. Women in the 'caliphate'

This sketch, aired on Lebanese television channel LBC, addresses the treatment of women under the rule of ISIL.

In the video, an ISIL fighter manning a checkpoint stops a vehicle to ask the driver’s gender. Upon realizing the driver is a woman, he informs her that women are not allowed to drive under ISIL’s rule, and that she is a sinner and criminal who must die for breaking the law.

To save her life, she tells him that the car is carrying a bomb and that she is on a mission to detonate it. Excited to hear the news, he proclaims that women are only allowed to drive vehicles if they are laden with explosives.  

To highlight ISIL's religious contradictions, the fighter has sex with the woman in the backseat of her car before she is sent on her way.

5. Calling out hypocrisy

In another comedy sketch aired on LBC, a taxi driver picks up a religious fundamentalist who shuns Western technology and is generally assumed to be a follower of ISIL's strict religious ideology.

Throughout the ride, the passenger, who wishes to be driven to the city center, berates the driver for wanting to listen to the radio, turn on the air conditioner and answer his phone — as these technologies did not exist during Islam's heyday.

Fed up with the passenger's judgmental attitude and backwardness, the driver asks him, "Did taxis exist during Islam's heyday?" After the passenger answers no, the driver pulls over, kicks him out and yells, "So wait for a camel to take you downtown!"

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