Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Silencing a Sikh Voice

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Silencing a Sikh Voice

Article excerpt

VIOLENCE, militancy and intolerance won a victory over freedom of speech in Birmingham yesterday. A play called Behzti, or Dishonour, was cancelled by the city's Repertory Theatre after stone-throwing and window-smashing by religious activists. The play, by the Sikh actress and writer Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti, deals with a rape by an apparently respectable local dignitary in a Sikh temple. This was always likely to be sensitive territory. But art must ask the difficult questions, not just the easy ones.

Free speech is absolutely central to this country's values. It must be defended to the hilt against the threats of a misguided few, especially at a time when the proposed offence of incitement to religious hatred has raised fears that an essential liberty will be eroded. Indeed, it is ethnic minority writers in particular, such as Miss Bhatti, who have a huge role to play in exploring the values and conflicts in their communities for a wider audience. …

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