Tag Archives: Little Egypt

‘Daily Show’ inspired Middle Eastern newscast turns to Kickstarter

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Clarke Leo Michael Smith

Laughter is the basis of a new Kickstarter campaign looking to bring Western attention to Middle Eastern headlines.

Based on the structure of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” a satirical newscast all about the Middle East called “The Mideast Show” was dreamed up by Brooklyn resident Kayvon Afshari earlier this year.

“I thought there was a need to create a space, create a platform where people with a sense of humor could laugh together,” Afshari said.

At first Afshari was going to shoot the show from his apartment using an iPhone, but after receiving strong, positive feedback on the idea he began reaching out to friends and colleagues in Brooklyn and Queens to help create the first episode.

The pilot episode, partially written by Jackson Heights resident Serhan Ayhan, features Afshari as the host of the show reviewing headlines out of the Middle East, a special guest, on-scene reporting and much more.

However, the big challenge for the show is funding. The pilot episode cost about $15,000 to create.

With the hopes of producing five more episodes for the first season, Afshari has turned to Kickstarter to raise a goal of $85,000. The money would go into renting a studio, camera and equipment, hire a professional crew involving camera operators, director, audio engineer and graphic designers, and post-production work.

The funds would also help purchase props for the show and pay members of the creative team, most of whom are currently volunteering their time.

The mission of “The Mideast Show” is to create a newscast for people who have a sense of humor about the Middle East and want to laugh together, regardless of nationality, religion or ethnicity, according to the show’s Kickstarter website.

“There is a lack of information on the Middle East that Americans have and among some people there is not even an interest,” said Afshari. “We are embedded in this region. However, [people] don’t know about it.”

The team behind the show is mixed with various Middle Eastern roots, including Afshari who is Persian-American.

Ayhan, who is half Turkish and half Kurdish and one of the writers for the show, came up with the segment on the pilot episode where reporter Rex Huckstable takes a trip to the Little Egypt community in Astoria and speaks to residents about recent elections in Egypt.

In future episodes, Ayhan said he hopes to have the chance to continue doing segments on local Middle Eastern communities.

“The goal is to entertain but also educate. We’re not trying to make fun of people from the Middle East,” Ayhan said. “We want to be that bridge to educate people.”

To donate to the Kickstarter campaign click here. For more information on “The Mideast Show” and to watch the pilot episode click here.



Astoria Egyptians divided over unrest overseas

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

There is a split on Steinway Street.

Egyptian Americans on the commercial strip in Astoria, known by some as Little Egypt with its numerous cafes and hookah lounges, are divided on who should rule their home country as the unrest between the military and protestors rages on.

All, of course, are concerned for the well-being of their families and loved ones overseas, with hundreds killed and thousands injured.

“I tell them be careful, be safe and respect the law,” Astoria resident Mostafa Gad said, referring to his nephews obeying the 7 p.m. curfew in Egypt set by the military.

The tense situation started over a month ago when the Army took control of President Mohamed Morsi’s government by force and established an interim government.

Members of the Muslim Brotherhood party, which Morsi belongs to, began rallies and sit-ins for his reinstitution, to which the Army responded with tear gas and bullets.

While some Egyptians around Astoria want the reinstallation of Morsi, who was elected last year in Egypt’s first-ever Democratic election, most identify with the Army, led by General Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi.

They believe that Morsi didn’t run the country well while in office and they hope the military drives the Brotherhood from power and gives Egypt a taste of religious freedom, much like America.

“I don’t want to be ruled by a Muslim government,” said Astoria resident Gamal Omram, who said he is Muslim. “They control you.”

Recently, Islamist protestors of Morsi’s ouster burned dozens of Christian churches, which is the religious minority in Egypt.

Morsi supporters may be in the minority in Little Egypt, but they don’t believe that they have lost the majority of Egyptian support in the country.

Supporters of the Brotherhood feel that since Morsi was Democratically elected what the Army is doing now is just a coup.

“How do you get to call that a revolution,” asked Astoria resident Ahmed Shafei, “Legitimacy is something that is voted upon, not what the Army chooses.”

President Barack Obama stopped short of calling the military takeover a coup in a recent speech, but suspended a joint military event. The U.S. government is also withholding more than $1 billion in annual aid to Egypt while the fighting persists.

Little Egypt is also divided on if America should respond. Those in support of the revolution want America to “let Egyptian people decide their destiny.”

But Morsi supporters are calling for the U.S. to stop the Army.

“We see that this is a bloody coup,” said Sherif Ahmed, who owns Zaitoun grocery store on Steinway Street and is the director of the New York chapter of Egyptian Americans for Democracy and Human Rights. “This is reminiscent of the [Hosni] Mubarak regime. This is the same system that is trying to take over again.”

One thing both sides agree on is that they don’t want the death toll to increase.

“We are all Egyptian,” Omram said. “I don’t want to see blood spilled both ways. It hurts me when I see somebody killed.”