Monday, December 20, 2004

Sikh-ing censorship

A couple of days ago, 400 Sikhs rioted in Birmingham (UK) over a play which depicted rape and murder taking place in a fictional Sikh temple. The play has now been scrapped because Sikh leaders refused to give assurances that the violence -- which included smashing windows and doors and pelting police -- would not be repeated.
According to The Scotsman,
Ursula Owen, editor-in-chief of pro-free speech group Index on Censorship, said the cancellation of the play was “bad news”.
She said it revived memories of the play Perdition, which was pulled before a run at the Royal Court Theatre in London in 1987 because of protests that it was anti-Semitic.
“That took 12 years before it was actually performed again. This decision is absolutely unacceptable. I am shocked.”
This, of course, is the same group that opined that Theo van Gogh, who produced a work of art condemning abuse of women, was guilty of ‘an abuse of his right to free speech’, his ritual slaughter was ‘his very own martyrdom operation’ and we should ‘applaud Theo van Gogh’s death as the marvellous piece of theatre it was.’
In other words: offend Muslims, and you are abusing your own free speech; offend Sikhs, and we will protect your free speech. I wonder what Index on Censorship's reaction would have been had the play been set in a mosque.

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