Shortly before the US presidential elections in 2016, the conservative lobby organisation Secure America Now invited you to take part in an imaginary journey into the horror vision of an ‘Islamised Germany’.
At the end of 2016, the video Welcome to the Islamic State of Germany sent the German media landscape into turmoil. It was commissioned by the conservative US lobby organisation ‘Secure America Now’ and produced by the advertising agency Harris Media, based in Austin, Texas. With the look of an advertising film for tourism and bluntly provocative rhetoric, the one-and-a-half-minute clip promotes the merits of a fictitious ‘Islamic State of Germany’. With over one million views, Welcome to the Islamic State of Germany is the most viewed in a series of three thematically related videos, which caricature not only Germany but also the future of France and the United States as Islamic theocracies. While the German press reacted predominantly critically to the video and described it as a ‘bizarre’ ‘delusional video’, various right-wing populist blogs claimed that they could make out a ‘core of truth’ in the exaggerated depiction.
The English-language video makes use of the typical style of advertising, but with a blatantly cynical undertone. Even the choice of words for the title is based on image films for tourism: ‘Welcome to the Islamic State of Germany – Book your journey now.’ When the speaker with a German accent begins to explain the history of the new state, a vision of horror is unfolded on both the visual and narrative level: Due to the influx of Syrian refugees, the ‘brave Jihadi fighters’ of the so-called Islamic State (IS) have succeeded in ‘infiltrating’ Germany in order to undermine the once democratic system and transform it into the ‘Islamic State of Germany’ in line with the terrorist organisation’s extremist interpretation of religion. Symbolizing this fictitious transformation, still images of typical German folk festivals and prominent landmarks are digitally reworked with Islamic and occasionally Jihadist symbols: The black-red-golden Tauhid flag of the ‘Islamic State of Germany’ is waving above Neuschwanstein Castle and at the Brandenburg Gate, the Cologne and Berlin Cathedrals are being converted into mosques, and neither pork nor alcohol is served at Oktoberfest. Finally, there is an appeal to book a trip to the new Germany to experience the ‘new culture of Islam’ first hand.
The tone of the video, meanwhile, leaves no doubt that – despite references to the terrorist organisation IS – it is not only Jihadists, but Muslims in general who are meant as the enemy. All in all, the video does not explicitly warn against a reign of terror by extremist militias, but against a comprehensive Islamisation of society as a whole. Superficially aimed merely against IS, the message is broadened by a generalising Islamophobic and xenophobic level. Deliberately, no distinction is made between refugees, Muslims, and Jihadists; instead, all these groups are presented equally as a threat to the Western social order. The video deliberately plays with the fears and expectations of the audience – after all, horror stories of atrocities committed by IS dominated international news for months. It transfers the negative associations associated with the term ‘Islamic State’ to the exaggerated scenario of an alleged ‘Islamisation of the Occident’, an ‘Islamic subjugation’.
Choosing an overtly cynical undertone, this doomsday scenario is intertwined with ironic-optimistic buzzwords such as ‘celebrate’ and ‘experience’ – always trusting that the audience will correctly interpret the obvious discrepancy between the apparent advertising aesthetic and the actual Islam-critical statement. The video is well aware of its own absurdity: After all, precisely the resulting ambivalence – ‘Is this satire, or is it still meant seriously?’ – is the perfidious strength of the clip. On the one hand, the underlying message is expressed unmistakably, while on the other hand it remains possible to fend off criticism in the same breath by referring to the possibility of viewing it as satire. The video is exaggerated enough to be able to slip under the cloak of satire, but at the same time clear enough to avoid misunderstandings. In fact, Vincent Harris, CEO of Harris Media, defended the clip to the Berliner Morgenpost as ‘subtle satire’, which was meant to draw attention to an important topic.
Even more remarkable, however, is the statement by Josh Canter, spokesman for Secure America Now, who told the far-right platform Breitbart that the video series was intended to target indecisive US voters. Thus, the video was not primarily aimed at a German audience, but rather at citizens of the United States. It was not without reason that Welcome to the Islamic State of Germany was issued a few days before the US presidential election in 2016. Even without mentioning the names of the two presidential candidates once, the video was intended to mobilise people for the campaign of Donald Trump, who often sharply criticised Merkel’s immigration policy in his speeches. Similarly, the nightmare images of the total loss of identity of an Islamised Europe were intended to move viewers to protest against the Democratic Party’s immigration policy, loosely based on the slogan, ‘What happens in Europe will happen to us.’ It remains doubtful, however, whether the audience of the American alt-right scene was aware of the unrealistic nature of an alleged Islamisation of Germany, a geographically distant country which, because of its highly publicised and controversial border policy, could be made use of in an absurd and perfidious fantasy scenario of an Islamic dictatorship.
 Cf. Josh Canter in: Digital Ad Campaign Portrays Paris Under Islamic Control After Four Years of Hillary Clinton Presidency (18 October 2016). At: breitbart.com (Last visited on 25 September 2017).