Suleiman Bakhit claims the key to fighting terrorism and extremism in the Middle East is, simply, a comic book. “There is a huge need for positive role models and positive narratives,” he says. And he is not talking about inspiration, exactly. The Jordanian activist thoroughly studied the narratives and myths crafted by the extremist discourse, to find that at the core of their violence lies the feeling of shame.
“We must develop a counter mythology based on healthy shame, based on personal narratives of love, and most importantly of male and female heroines,” he told the audience at the Wired 2014 talk, stressing the importance of building positive tales.
“Narratives and myths give us a sense of purpose, they give us a compelling sense of direction in our lives,” he says, mirroring what Naif Al-Mutawa, brainfather of The 99, told BarakaBits last May: “It is important that cultures are proactive in telling their stories. I began to think about how my Islam was being portrayed as a religion of violence, and I thought: what if I can associate it with positive things like comic books, theme parks and animation?”