Playwright gets death sentence

Published December 1, 1999

A London-based Muslim group has sentenced to death the author of a play depicting a gay Jesus. The group, Al-Muhajiroun, which describes itself as the Defenders of the Messenger Jesus, said Jesus was an important prophet in Islam and that classical and modern Islamic authorities agreed that capital punishment was the prescribed penalty for insulting a messenger of God. Corpus Christi, by Terrence McNally shows Jesus, who is crucified as “King of the Queers,” being betrayed by his gay lover, Judas. Since its premiere last year, the play has provoked controversy in Britain and the United States. New York-based McNally is not considered to be under the same risk as author Salman Rushdie, the subject of a fatwa issued in Iran, who went into hiding for several years. Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad, the judge of the UK Shari’ah Court, has warned individuals not to try to carry out the sentence, saying it should only be carried out by an Islamic state.


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