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Friday, November 7, 2008      Geostrategy-Direct.com

Germans deploy manga-style comics to sway Muslim youth in war of ideas

The German government has published a comic book designed to dissuade Muslims from turning to Islamist extremism although U.S. officials say the effectiveness of the effort is questionable.

The comic was issued by the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia that seeks to educate young people about the differences between Islam and Islamic extremism and danger posed by Islamic terrorism.

The comic book has been met with both praise and skepticism. “On balance, it represents an innovative way to reach a vulnerable but cynical audience,” said a U.S. government report on the comic book. “Although the Europeans are engaged in a variety of programs to prevent or counter Islamic radicalization on their soil, it is unclear if the comic book is a unique initiative or if it might represent a wave of new efforts to employ nontraditional or experimental media in addressing the problem.”

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The comic book was produced by the regional Interior Ministry a year ago and is done in the popular Japanese-origin manga style. It is the first official European product of its type seeking to dissuade youth not to become Islamist terrorists.

The comic book contains a clearly displayed sponsorship by the government and has a page of introductory text by the German state's own interior minister.

It emphasizes an anti-terrorist message through a story of fictional German teenagers, both Muslim and non-Muslim, and through explanatory notes and links that provide additional information on issues tied to Islamic radicalization.

In the story a Muslim teenage in Germany believes he is a victim of discrimination and is attracted to the message of Islamist terrorists. At the end of the story, a confrontation convinces him that Islamist ideology is dangerous but the message is coushed in a pro-Muslim but anti-extremist theme.

The comic book seeks to link Islamist terror to “anti-German” atitudes and laws by noting that Islamist are uncompromising, undermine human rights and violate Germany’s constitutional structure. It also seeks to emphasize that Islamists dod not reflect the views of the vast majority of Muslims.

The comic book states that the Muslim youth's inability to find a job is the result of his lack of initiative and educational achievement. Germany’s government reports that 19 percent of Germany's ethnic Turks, the largest non-German population group and one that is overwhelmingly Muslim, are unemployed. By contrast, only 8 percent of the general population are unemployed.



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