Jihad musical threatens rise in Islamophobia

Scottish Muslims have balked at the staging of a satirical musical about “Islamic rebels” fearing it would strengthen Islamophobia against the backdrop of the failed Glasgow airport bombing. Sohaib Saeed, Manager of the Islam Festival Edinburgh (IFE), said of the musical that it would “make negative perceptions of Islam worse”. Saeed insisted Muslims should not be placed in one basket. “I urge producers and writers to make a difference between extremists and other people practising the faith,” he said.

The satirical show “Jihad the Musical” had its first world premiere at the Edinburgh festival at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the world’s largest arts festival, last Wednesday. The show tells the story of an Afghan peasant who becomes “brainwashed” by a Jihadi gang and features songs such as “I want to be like Osama” and “I only see your eyes”.

Saeed criticised the idea of staging a light-hearted entertainment about terror so soon after the Glasgow plot. “How can you make jokes of terrorism and laugh about people teaching extremism and preaching violent acts against innocent people?” He also disagreed with the British writer of the Lyrics, Zoe Samuel, who argued that the performance would appeal to the British tradition of laughing in the face of adversity.

“I cannot see what positive contributions such a musical would make to society or how we can call it a positive entertainment as it addresses a sensitive issue like terrorism,” he said. “They are making terrorism a joke. Many people were killed in terrorist operations. Many people will see the musical upsetting as it makes fun of a serious problem. All people are still trying to get to grips with terrorism; they want to understand what is going on to remove the scourge.”

Racist attacks against Muslims in Scotland have risen by almost one third in the wake of last month’s terrorist attempt at Glasgow airport.

Muslim Weekly, 10 August 2007