LONDON (ENI)—A London-based Muslim group has sentenced to death the author of a play depicting Jesus as a homosexual.

The London-based 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.

The play, Corpus Christi, by Terrence McNally, locates its version of the gospel story in modern Texas. It 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. When the play opened in New York, hundreds of police were deployed to protect the audience from protesters, most of whom were Christian. Christians also protested during the production of the play in Edinburgh.

The fatwa (death sentence) on McNally was issued as the play opened in London late last month. Copies of the fatwa were handed out to theatre-goers outside the fringe Pleasance Theatre in north London.

The fatwa, in the name of the Shari'ah Court of the United Kingdom, quotes the Prophet Mohammed: "Whoever insults any messenger of God must be killed."

The sentence would apply even if McNally became a Muslim and repented. However, New York-based McNally is not considered to be under the same risk as the author Salman Rushdie, the subject of a fatwa issued in Iran, who went into hiding for several years because of the fear of attack.

Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad, the judge of the UK Shari'ah Court, has warned individuals not to try to carry out the sentence. He said it should only be carried out by an Islamic state.

Sulayman Keeler, ...

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