Is fear a powerful weapon and why

"Fear sells, fear intimidates"

Thank you very much for being here today! It's a wonderful journey for my team and me.

For us, my show was more than just a TV production. It was a deeply human experience. We learned firsthand how important satire can be in our daily lives. We have embarked on a unique path to be heard. Not through violence, not through agitation, hatred and fear, no: through comedy and light-hearted humor - even when we discussed the most daunting and controversial political issues. We used laughter, dance and music to stand up for values ​​such as freedom and coexistence and to stand up to religious fanaticism and false patriotism.

It was important to us to have fun and enjoyment in terms of our work and our audience. And even those who didn't share our message watched us because they appreciated the quality of our work. They later cursed us, but first of all they drove up our quotas. Thank you very much for that! Egyptians present here will know how to classify ...

Everything we did was aimed at changing this medium, creating media that respect people's beliefs and intelligence, while informing them and helping them fight all the lies and disinformation that so many media spread. But we never had the right to be freedom fighters or political activists. We were convinced that it is enough to be like people in everyday life who do not allow themselves to be bought by lying and deceptive propaganda.

Satire as a weapon

Video overlay of Al Bernameg in the former plenary hall of the Bundestag in Bonn

Satire comes from the Greek word sarcasm, which means something like "tear your mouth open, tear yourself apart, mock yourself", "pull the fur over someone's ears" to reveal what is underneath. Satire has therefore been our weapon to expose the lies and phrases that are only aimed at controlling the people. But those who didn't like us and our messages used a different weapon - the most effective weapon of all: FEAR. Fear sells, fear intimidates. Fear drives people to act against their honest beliefs. The most basic instinct of all: fear.

We have seen fear fueled by those who hide behind religion to manipulate the masses. We have seen how the human need to express oneself through logic, laughter and satire has been demonized under the pretext that it is against religion and against God. And so we have been denounced as godless, obscene, and even a danger to society.

Think differently: reason for malicious attacks

We saw how fear is used. From those who justify everything with national security and the supposedly patriotic claim in order to sow hatred and distrust between people. Thinking differently, making fun of yourself, that was the reason for malicious attacks. As a result, we were viewed as unpatriotic, traitors, and once again a threat to the very foundations of society. We have seen fear work its way through the hearts and minds of people so that even the most ridiculous and absurd claims and conspiracy theories were widely accepted as indisputable facts.

The politics of fear

# videobig # fear sells. Fear works. Scares that you want to get away with it. And when people are fearful, they don't accept logic, let alone satire. Fear can rule the masses. Fear can turn them into a reckless organism, devoid of human compassion and intellectual mind. Fear can drive people to give up their best trait: humanity. Driven by fear, they accept when their right to protest and to oppose is deprived of them. And they even applaud when other peoples are deprived of such rights. Anyone who is afraid longs for fascism and the term human rights is considered downright indecent.

Global Media Forum 2014: Bassem Youssef meets Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier

We wanted to expose such irrational fears, we wanted to expose them as lower human instincts that only serve to give up basic human rights and needs. That may sound strange, but let me remind you again: fear sells. Fear pays off. Fear is an elemental force.

Fear is probably the main driving force behind the crowd. This is what history has taught us. The world experienced National Socialism, Fascism, the McCarthy era. All movements that used fear, xenophobia and hollow, malicious phrases to intimidate the masses.

Sixty years later, such methods are still in use. We have seen advanced democracies stir up fear in order to draw the world into war - as happened in the US under President Bush. The primary weapons were not state-of-the-art aircraft carriers or stealth bombers. They were traditional and, so to speak, “nationwide” fears. Fear is the most popular weapon of all: whether in democratic or autocratic countries, in religious states or terrorist groups - fear is the most popular weapon of all.

Fear sells, fear works, fear is a winner. But satire and comedy can be one of the few antidotes to fighting fear. Satire and comedy emancipate the mind. They liberate judgment. That is why they are a threat and why people who use satire are rejected, marginalized or even persecuted.

Applauded performance by Bassem Youssef, DW director Peter Limbourg applauds

It doesn't matter whether a government believes it is closer to God than you or a regime believes it is more patriotic than you. As a satirist you have no place in a world where fascism is celebrated and fear rules. But satire will ensure that this equation does not work out in the long run. Because if you laugh, you will never be afraid again. And so the system will do everything it can to eradicate the powerful weapon of laughter and replace it with fear.

But maybe there is a little glimmer of hope. Perhaps change will come from a side that is least expected. Today's world is a young world. The youth are more networked than ever. The Internet offers opportunities that did not exist a few years ago, when regimes could do what they wanted.

When we started our show on the Internet three years ago, we were probably the only ones with such an idea and such a format. But now the web is full of young people ready every day to fight fear, intimidation and media fraud.

We were too big to be allowed to go on. But while we were banned, something changed. Ending the show may seem like a sad line to end. We would like to see it as a signal for a fresh start. We inspired an entire generation to go outside and be articulate. The old recipes no longer work with these young people. Propaganda that worked for her parents will no longer intimidate her.

Fear has no future

The overwhelming power of fascism that plagues many regions of our planet today is only a temporary and fleeting phase that will soon be swept away by the future generation. The ruling fascism seems invincible and one could believe that the long-awaited freedom is stillborn. But that is not true. As Bevan once said: “Fascism is not a new social order; it's just a future that refuses to be born. "

But I tell you the future is already here. She's warming up right now.

So: fear may sell. Fear may work. Fear may win. But she will meet her own defeat. And the battlefield for great victory will be the hearts and souls of vibrant, dynamic and inspired young people who will not give in to fear. Fear can't get us anywhere. She has no future. It cannot build states, it can only destroy. And anyone who thinks they could win today because they are taking advantage of their fear should think urgently. Because he's wrong. In the history books he will one day appear as a loser, in the hearts of the younger generation he has already lost!

Keynote by Bassem Youssef at the Global Media Forum of Deutsche Welle on Monday, June 30, 2014 in Bonn.