Scottish Muslims have balked at the planned staging of a satirical musical about "Islamic extremists" at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, fearing it would fan Islamophobia in the country against the backdrop of the failed Glasgow attack.
"It will make negative perceptions of Islam worse," Sohaib Saeed, Manager of the Islam Festival Edinburgh (IFE), told IslamOnline.net on Tuesday, July 31, over the phone from the capital of Scotland.
The satirical show, Jihad the Musical, will have its first world premiere at the Edinburgh festival, the world's largest arts festival, on Wednesday, August 1.
Featuring songs such as 'I wanna be like Osama' and 'I Only See Your Eyes', it tells the story of Afghan peasant Sayid who is entrapped and then brainwashed by "jihadis" seeking to blow up targets in the West.
A sinister reporter, Foxy Redstate, uncovers the plot and encourages him to keep her in the loop, hoping such an exclusive will propel her to media stardom.
Everything comes to a head on the night of the attack, where, caught between his bossy sister, the bloodthirsty global media, and the "jihadis", Sayid has to decide whose side he is really on.
The musical comedy, performed by the British seven-member group Silk Circle Productions, features songs such as 'I wanna be like Osama' and 'I Only See Your Eyes.'
In the Osama song, Sayid speaks of a desire to "bomb a path across the world" in order to be "Islamically renowned."
He appears flanked by people clad in pink burqas (the traditional veil in Afghanistan) and touting automatic weapons and swords.
Saeed, the Scottish activist, insisted Muslims should not be placed in one basket.
"I urge producers and writers to make a difference between extremists and other people practicing the faith."
Racist attacks against Muslims in Scotland have risen by almost one third in the wake of last month's terrorist attempt at Glasgow airport.
Saeed criticized 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 wondered.
Saeed 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 told IOL.
"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."
Scottish Muslims have vehemently condemned the failed attacks and pledged full cooperation with police.
The Muslim activist told IOL an Islamic exhibition will be held at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, which is held annually during the first three weeks of August.
"The Discover Islam Exhibition includes various poster sets explaining aspects of the religion and culture of Muslims, as well as artistic exhibits and multimedia," he said.
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The exhibition which opens Wednesday with a ceremony attended by Edinburgh Council head Jenny Dawe, Police Chief Constable David Strang and several MSPs and interfaith representatives.
Saeed said the exhibition, to last for one month, is aimed at promoting understanding of Muslim faith and life.
He noted that it has run successfully at Edinburgh Central Mosque for the past five years.
The Islam Festival will also hold a fringe exhibition selling calligraphy masterpieces.
Highlight events during the month include two talks on Islam in a contemporary context.
"More than ever, this fantastic resource for meeting local Muslims and learning about their way of life is a significant contribution to our diverse Scottish society."