Meet the folks fighting online hate with laughter in Germany

Culture & Entertainment
Germany_Datteltaeter comedians
Photo: The Datteltaeter team / Bojan Novic

Datteltaeter is a German YouTube channel that uses satire to battle hate against Muslims and encourages Muslims to laugh at themselves as part of a community. My Salaam interviewed Farah Bouamar from the team.

How would you best describe Datteltaeter?

On 1 July 2015, six young adults—five Muslims and one Christian—came together to form the German satire channel Datteltaeter on YouTube. Younes, Fiete, Marcel, Hibat, Nour and I [Farah] are friends who have a vision of a project that enriches society and challenges bigotry with intellectual content. We fight racism, sexism, stereotypes and all kinds of hate with humour to break the ice in society, especially now, when religion is a sensitive topic with mostly negative connotations in the media and in public discourse. Last year, our young channel was awarded the newcomer Web Video Prize and this year we won the Grimme Online Award in the culture and entertainment category twice. We also received an audience prize and the Smart Hero Award for social contribution in Germany.

What does “Datteltaeter” mean?

We thought about our name for a long time, and in the end, we came up with “Datteltaeter”, which is a combination of “Dattel” the German word for date (fruit) and “Attentaeter” the German word for assassin. The date has a positive connotation to Muslims, whereas assassin has the negative connotation of madmen who want to blow everything up. We blended them together with the intention to irritate as well as to target the laugh muscles of our viewers.

Which is your most watched video?

Our most watched video is the America First—Muslim World Second video.

Do you get more hate comments than positive comments? Why did you decide to have Marcel read out hate comments

We get quite a lot of hate comments, but we focus on the positive comments instead, though it may seem that we pay more attention to the hate comments by having Marcel read them out. But we definitely get more positive comments, and that is nice to see. The simple reason for letting Marcel read out the comments is that most of the hate is against Muslims, and he as a non-Muslim can offer a different perspective. To see his reactions to the comments (he does not know the comments beforehand) may shift the focus to their stupidity and away from their intention.

Now that you have over 50,000 subscribers, do you review and change your content or tread more cautiously now that you have a growing audience?

The awareness of the sensitivity of our content did not change. We calculated the possibility of a growing audience beforehand, and maybe that is the reason why we grow: we really put a lot of thought into our work. Reviewing, changing and growing is a necessary process that we all undertake to make our videos better, and I think it is a process that will never stop.

Do you plan to make your content more accessible to a non-German audience?

We have already started to translate the videos into English to make them accessible for a non-German audience. We hope to translate them faster and more regularly so you can enjoy them too.

Source: Datteltaeter

How do you coordinate as a team? Would you call this a hobby?

Although we all work or study, we passionately see this project as our second job. It means that we try to manage time and energy to create something great. Most of the coordination is made via Skype, because we don’t live in one city. During the week, we write a script via Skype. On weekends, we shoot the videos when most of us can spare time.

What plans do you have for your channel?

We want to grow more to reach more people. Furthermore, we want to break stereotypes and hate by making people laugh. We want to stress social issues that concern Muslims in Germany as well as around the world.

Germany_Datteltaeter comedians
Photo: The Datteltaeter team / Bojan Novic

What have been your greatest achievements as a team?

It is great to see how our work is rewarded by so many organisations and by our audience. Some of our viewers tell us that we shifted their thoughts about Muslims and Islam to a more positive view. Not only that, but there is also the fact that we can support our Muslim community with our videos by giving them a laugh during a hard time when they’re facing so much ignorance and hate.

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