Sunday, August 05, 2007

Jihad, The Musical


It probably was inevitable but it comes as a surprise anyway: the first musical about Islamic terrorism. "Jihad, The Musical" by the Silk Circle Production company has opened at the Edinburgh Festival in England, billed as "madcap gallop through the wacky world of international terrorism". It's the story of a simple, young Muslim named Sayid who comes to the West with a bomb and a dream of blowing up an "Unidentified, Very Prestigious Landmark". He lands in London, links up with a jihadi cell, and the comedy ensues. You can watch the leader of his terror cell sing "I Wanna Be Like Osama" here. There are also the show-stopping tunes "Building a bomb today, what does the manual say" and "I can only see your eyes."

Now, a reasonable person, watching Muslims bomb innocent people into bloody chunks from New York to Bali, might wonder what would lead a playwright to say, "Let's set that to music!" At first glance, jihad does not lend itself to musical comedy. The predictable protest has been made in the form of a petition on the British Prime Minister's webste: "We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to condemn the tasteless portrayal of terrorism and its victims in Jihad the Musical." This seems to be a reaction from the general British public. Curiously, no Muslim group has taken offense. Perhaps, that's because Islamic terrorism doesn't offend them. Just an opinion. In the humorless and dull-witted world of the radical Muslim, they may think this glorifies their jihad.

There are precedents for this seemingly tasteless production. They sang "Springtime For Hitler" in the play, "The Producers." Charlie Chaplin made "The Great Dictator" in 1938 lampooning Hitler as the Nazis were persecuting Jews in Germany. Hollywood was afraid of offending the Nazis for fear of losing ticket sales in German theaters, much like Hollywood is afraid of offending Muslims today. Chaplin wrote in his autobiography, "Half-way through making The Great Dictator I began receiving alarming messages from United Artists. They had been advised by the Hays Office that I would run into censorship trouble. Also the English office was very concerned about an anti-Hitler picture and doubted whether it could be shown in Britain. But I was determined to go ahead, for Hitler must be laughed at." Nowadays, Muslim terrorists can only be theatrically mocked in indie productions like "Jihad, The Musical." Hollywood producers don't want to end up like Theo van Gogh.

While the best direct defense against the jihad is to return it to its senders in their own homes sped along with fearful firepower, the best indirect defense at home against Muslim terrorism is to simply refuse to be terrorized. The main aim of Muslim terrorists is not simply to kill people for Islam but to deliver a psychological bomb in the collective mind of the populace which paralyzes them with fear or prompts wildly exaggerated reaction to the benefit of the attackers. The best way to defuse that fear is through mockery as delivered through theater pieces such as "Jihad, the Musical."

Jeff at Beautiful Atrocities improves upon the Edinburgh production with an alternate script for the musical: Mohammed, the protagonist, opens with "I'm gonna wash that Jew right outa my hair!" Robert Fisk, masochistic lefty journalist, is beaten up by madrassa boys, to his delight, singing how much he and the West deserve it in "I've Been a Bad, Bad Boy." Mohammed sings "What I Did For Jihad." John Walker Lindh belts out "A Long Way From Whole Foods!" Osama bin Laden gloats to his Al Qaeda lieutenants about the World Trade Center attacks in "My Bad" while the Taliban chorus sings "Pushing Up Daisy Cutters." Mohammed is released from Gitmo into a changed world he scarcely recognizes where democracy reigns in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Arab world is aflame with pro-democracy protests. Mohammed laments his lost dream of a world submitting to Sharia law in "Who Let the Genie Out?"

Now, I'd pay to see that.

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