On British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's official Downing Street website, an online petition has begun requesting the condemnation of the Fringe musical, which has been described by detractors as a "tasteless portrayal of terrorism and its victims… The idea of making light of Muslim extremism is extremely offensive, most especially for its victims. The Edinburgh Fringe Festival promotes such 'artistic license' without due consideration for those parties who may be offended by this 'musical.'"
The protest has secured steady business for the venture produced by Silk Circle Production Company. Producer James Lawler stated, "While we appreciate the concern, we have no intention of causing offense - it is simply a musical comedy." In fact, supporters have come out in abundance, claiming the only way to fight fundamental violence is to mock it, and not show signs of fear and defeat.
Representatives for the musical have also stated the protests have brought about overwhelming support for the musical from Western and Muslim communities alike, with interest to produce the musical in the United States, Japan and the U.K.
The Downing Street petition itself has already become the subject of mockery, with only 24 names signed to it, including Osama Bin Laden and the Prophet Mohammed himself.
Co-written by Zoe Samuel & Benjamin Scheuer, the musical, according to production notes, "tells the story of a young Afghan peasant, Sayid, who dreams of proving himself by making it as a flower farmer. Enchanted by a mysterious veiled woman, he leaps at her offer to work for a company that 'exports poppies' to the West. Sayid soon discovers that the company is a front for a jihadi cell seeking to blow up targets in the West, most particularly one known as the Unidentified, Very Prestigious Landmark. Farce ensues as Sayid is brainwashed by the all-singing, all-dancing jihadis, vowing to fight for their cause. Meanwhile, a sinister reporter, Foxy Redstate, uncovers the plot, encouraging Sayid to keep her in the loop in the hope that such an exclusive will propel her to media stardom. Sayid finds himself caught between the terrorists on one hand and the media on the other, driven to share in their enthusiasm for the impending terrorist spectacular. Everything comes to a head on the night of the attack, where, caught between the bloodthirsty global media and the jihadis he has come to see as a new family, Sayid has to decide whose side he is really on." Songs featured in the production include "I Wanna Be Like Osama," "Axis of Freedom," the love ballad "I Only See Your Eyes," "Building a Bomb Today, What Does the Manual Say," "The Unidentified, Very Prestigious Landmark" and "Jihad Jive."
A cast of New York-based actors complete the production, including Benjamin Scheuer, Sorab Wadia, Meetu Chilana, Daniella Rabbani, Jonathan Weine, David Ingber and Emily McNamara.
For tickets to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival staging, running through Aug. 26, visit www.cthefestival.com. For further information on Jihad: The Musical visit www.jihad-the-musical.com.