TCS Daily

Jihad! The Musical!!

By Val MacQueen - August 10, 2007 12:00 AM

Billed as a "madcap gallop through the wacky world of international terrorism", Jihad! The Musical opened at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this week, in the teeth of the usual pettish complaints from Islamic pressure groups, to rave reviews.

While the English tend to be courteous and placatory, the reputation of the Scots for being confrontational may have accounted for the low octane level of local seething. Indeed, the seethe-fest having failed to get off the ground in the face of the implacability of the show's producers, the protesters, were reduced to registering a somewhat dispirited petition on the No 10 Downing Street's website, asking politely that the show be taken off. It reads,

"We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to condemn the tasteless portrayal of terrorism and its victims in Jihad the Musical".

A long way from worldwide fatwahs, burning effigies and a universal ban on Danish dairy products. The petition itself, apparently organized by a native Brit - possibly someone who lost a relative on 7/7 - isn't exactly doing boffo box office. Of the few signatures it has attracted so far, many would appear to be aspirational - such Osama bin Laden, Abu Hamza, Green Helmet Guy, and An Outraged Fascist among others.

The existence of the petition, though, does beg the question: why aren't Muslims and others organizing online petitions to protest against real terrorism?

The musical tells the story of "a hapless Afghan peasant who wants nothing more than to sell poppies". He somehow falls into the hands of jihadi terrorists and conceives an ambition to be "Islamically renowned", to which end he sings show-stopper, "I Wanna Be Like Osama", where longing for "a jihad of my own" and waiting with a world-weary shrug for the CIA "to determine what I'm worth", he is surrounded by assault-weapon toting chorines clad in pink burqas.

It is playing in Edinburgh to sold-out audiences.

The show was written by British Old Etonian and ex-Harvard man Ben Scheuer and 25 year-old Zoe Powell, another Brit. Both got their show business training in the United States..

American star Sorab Wadia has a voice and a stage presence built for Broadway and my guess is, after the Festival closes, there will be a reworking of the script, a sharpening of the lyrics and new songs penned. If Jihad! The Musical! does not end up in NYC, I'll eat my keffiyeh.

Meanwhile, several British Islamic comedians are clamoring for the rights to put the show on in their own cities.



making fun of the enemy
has been part of the human condition since humans were limited to throwing rocks at each other.

Corrections to article
Hi there,

Thanks very much for your kind words about our show!

We thought it might be useful to direct your attention a couple of inaccuracies that have crept in here; the fantastically talented Sorab Wadia is not American. Also the show is written by Zoe Samuel (book and lyrics) and Benjamin Scheuer (music and lyrics).

Also please note that the song 'I wanna be like Osama' is not sung by our loveable hero Sayid but by our villain, a wannabe terrorist kingpin.

Thanks again for taking the time to write about us; we really appreciate your interest!

All the best,
Silk Circle Productions

May it have a long run ...
That this musical made it to the stage is great, and I admit I've been waiting for it for quite some time. The best use of comedy is to emphatically state: you are not serious. What you're currently able to *do* may be deadly serious but your ideas are barbaric, anti-human and ultimately (in the most optimistic sense) don't matter.

Laughing in the face of these goons is not only great tonic (ask Mel Brooks -- or any great Jewish comic) but it reinforces the glory of free expression better than any dusty academic article. A "tasteless portrayal of terrorism and its victims" ...? Damn straight -- that's the bloody *point*!

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