Syrian Comedian Treka Zn is making a huge splash with red-pilled English-language YouTube comments straight outta Damascus. An exclusive interview from the war zone.
by Collin McMahon
Treka’s latest video „A Syrian Perspective of Trump Resistance“ has 2.1 million views and over 30.000 shares on Facebook page World Cloud. „I just checked. I now officially have more fans in the USA than in Syria,“ Treka tells us.
In the video, a body-positive New York Latinx „Resistance“ member tearfully recounts: „I was walking to work, and I saw a man selling Trump pins and hats… My instinct was to roll my eyes. And then he looks at me and says, ‚What?’ … and then makes a fist like he’s gonna punch me. My instinct was to laugh. I looked around, and there was a white male police officer standing right next to me who did nothing! … I never thought that would happen here in New York!“
Treka intersperses the clip with sarcastic jibes and improv crooning before contrasting the snowflake’s traumatic experience with „countries like Syria or Iraq, where ISIS will stone you to death for not wearing a hijab, or just for being Christian.“ He also has videos making fun of Eminem, Morgan Freeman, Hillary Clinton, gender fluidity, ISIS and the White Helmets.
We spoke to the 25-year-old Syrian comic in Damascus:
How did you start YouTubing?
I started doing stand-up comedy here in bars and night clubs in Arabic. But recently I started doing comedy videos in English talking about important issues, and then I started getting a lot of followers from Europe and America.
How did you learn such good English?
I was raised in Lagos, Nigeria. I lived there for 15 years. Then I started living in Syria in 2008.
Just in time for the war. What’s the situation in Syria now?
It’s getting better day by day. ISIS is destroyed but there are still other terrorist groups in Syria.
Is there still fighting going on?
Yes. There are still terrorist-held areas all over.
Are you in danger?
Of course. I live in Syria. A bomb might fall on me anytime, anywhere.
As a young man, do you have to join the Army?
No, I don’t have to serve in the Army because I lived abroad. I can pay a tax so I don’t have to serve in the military.
Were you ever personally threatened by ISIS or other terrorists?
Yes, I was. I belong to a minority group called the „Druze“. I was living in an Islamic neighbourhood called Odsaya, where we got threats that as soon as ISIS takes over, they will kill our men and marry our women because we are not Sunni Muslims. I also got threats from people who support the Wabhabis for the video I did exposing them online. But the truth is: whether I do videos exposing them or not, my life is already in danger, because I live in Syria.
What do you do to protect yourself?
I stay in government-controlled areas and don’t go out much.
Would you say the Assad government protects people?
Yes. In government-held areas, people are free to do what they want. All religions and minorities are protected. You can go to bars, drink alcohol, go to the mosque or to Church, as you wish. But in ISIS- and terrorist-controlled areas, you have only strict sharia law.
Is it OK to be gay in government areas?
Yes. You have people that are openly gay here. They don’t have to fear attacks from the government… they only fear attacks from religious people in the streets that don’t accept homosexuality. Not all the Syrians tolerate homosexuals.
Are there Jews?
Yes, but they’re a small minority now. You can still find a couple of Jewish families living in the old city in Damascus.
What’s your advice for Donald Trump?
My advice for him is to fix the mess Obama created in Syria. To completely stop funding terrorist groups in Syria, and to tell his allies like Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, and NATO to stop funding them too… Because, believe me, as soon as these terrorists stop receiving money and weapons, they will all be defeated in a few months.
How about the Kurds? YPG and Peshmerga? Do you see them as good guys or bad guys?
They are good people, but what they stand for isn’t good for Syria, because they want their own country. That means they want to divide Syria, which is only going to make Syria weaker.
Donald Trump’s UN ambassador Nikki Haley just called Assad „murderous“. What would you like to tell her?
Assad is fighting Wahhabis and extremists that want to implement Sharia law and turn the clock back in Syria 1400 years…. why didn’t we ever hear about killing in Syria before 2011? It’s because these terrorists didn’t exist back then. Syria used to be one of the safest, most secular Arab countries in the whole Middle East. A lot of the terrorists fighting the government aren’t even Syrians. They’re from Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan, Sudan. They have different nationalities, but all share the same ideology: Radical Islam.
Europe and Germany should be very worried, because among all the peaceful Syrian refugees who came, there are also former ISIS members that shaved their beards and put on a Nike T-shirt and are now in Europe.
I got the idea the protests in Syrian in 2011 were for democracy at first, but then the opposition got radicalized at first when the war broke out. Is that right?
Not everyone was peaceful. From the very beginning, there were peaceful protestors as well as people with guns. The educated people were peaceful but the extremists were violent from the start. But if outsiders didn’t interfere in Syria, none of this would have happened. All the weapons and money came from other countries: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, the USA, UK, France and even Germany. The West even funded groups like the White Helmets who are Al Nusra and Al Qaeda members. They pretend to be humanitarian helpers, but they were caught faking videos.
When do you think the war will be over?
When I become pregnant. (laughs) I think as soon as the outside funding stops, the Syrian army will destroy the remaining groups.
Are there safe places?
The places under government control are safer. But you still have to worry about the terrorists shooting rockets at the city. A rocket could fall on your head at any time. It’s not safe enough yet for the refugees to come back, if you ask me.
Is there any way for the European governments to tell the ISIS sleepers from the real refugees?
Well, the ISIS sleepers are the people that are extremely religious and want to implement their ignorance in a civilized country like Germany… The real refugees that Europe should keep are the people that are being productive, are college-educated and want to become part of European values and society.
I always wondered why young men would flee and leave their families. Refugees should be mostly women, children and old people. Who do you think these young guys are coming to Europe?
I have a lot of friends that are in Europe, who are all college-educated and very civilized, open-minded people. Of course not all of them are terrorists. Most of them are just normal people fleeing the war and destruction, because their lives and homes and shops have been destroyed. They saw that there is no more future for them in Syria. But among these peaceful refugees are former terrorists, too. Some are Syrians. Some are from Afghanistan, but act like they’re Syrians. Some are from Libya, Sudan, Iraq and so on.
Thank you, Treka. Stay safe!
Collin McMahon is an American writer living in Europe. He is currently working on a German-language book about the Trump presidency.