The controversial play, which is based on interviews with real jihadists, their friends and relatives and government officials, triggered mixed reactions among the Swedish public, yet was hailed for "humanizing" terrorists and providing a "nuanced picture" of the Swedish jihadists. According to Johan Gry, the author and the director of The Jihadist, the aim was to "dare" and "see a human being" in a terrorist.
"For if we never dare to do that, we dehumanize the person in the same way as they dehumanize their victims. And if we never understand, or at least try to understand the person, we will never be able to solve their basic problems," Johan Gry told Swedish national broadcaster SVT.
Unsurprisingly, the controversial nature of the play came under fire for allegedly romanticizing the image of the terrorists. The play got Liberal MP Robert Hannah to see red.
"Daesh is committing genocide in Iraq. For me, [the play] is a betrayal of all the victims and of all the women who had their children kidnapped by the terrorist organization," Robert Hannah told SVT.
Naod Habtemichael, president of the Center Students Gothenburg, claimed in a highly critical opinion piece in the newspaper Dagens Samhälle, that Gothenburg taxpayers should not be subsidizing "the cossetting of terrorists."
Pontus Stenshäll, the artistic director of the Gothenburg City Theater, claimed that the play gained particular importance now, given what has happened. Accordingly, the contents of the play will not change, SVT reported.
"It is a terrible and serious problem that we need to discuss," Pontus Stenshäll told SVT.
After the performance, panel discussions are organized with experts who deliberate on the "structures and motivations" that force a young person to travel off to fight for the terrorists' cause. The tone of these discussions will be marked by the terrorist attack in Stockholm, Pontus Stenshäll noted.
Earlier this week, a proposal by Greater Gothenburg Police Chief Erik Nord to expel people who support violent extremism was firmly rejected by Justice Minister Morgan Johansson.
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