Comic Strip Heroes Take on Al Qaeda

March 24, 2008

Author: Staff Writer

Source: The New York Times

Wire Service: Reuters

As European authorities grope for ways of combating the appeal of militant Islamism, one German security agency has hit on a novel idea: cartoon comics.

Officials in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) had run a well received comic strip campaign against right-wing extremism in 2004 starring Andi, a schoolboy hero who stands up against xenophobia and racism.

Drawing on that experience, they launched Andi last October into a second adventure featuring his Muslim girlfriend Ayshe and her brother Murat, who comes under the influence of a radical friend and an Islamist "hate preacher."

The comic -- printed in 100,000 copies and distributed to every secondary school in Germany's most populous state -- aims to show young people the difference between peaceful mainstream Islam and the violent, intolerant version peddled by militants.