A play set in a Gurdwara has been stopped in Birmingham as a result of protests from a group of Sikh activists. However others from the Sikh community who have spoken to me have been more outraged that the pressure from a particular political group has resulted in closure of the play, considerable damage to Birmingham Repertory Theatre and the projection of the Sikhs as fundamentalists.
It seems that the protesters are from a political group who have found the issues thrown up by this play to be a convenient platform for them to attempt to inflame feelings of the wider Sikh community. Many do not want to be associated with this strain of fundamentalism within Sikhism, and see it as damaging to community relations. The play is written by a Sikh woman, and has played to full houses where young Sikhs have been part of the audience.
Some feel there is considerable hypocrisy in the protesters’ actions: a member of this group was himself beaten up inside a Birmingham Gurdwara. It is shameful that some Birmingham councillors have added their voices to those who have succeeded in closing Birmingham’s leading theatre. The complaint used to be that minority issues were never raised in mainstream venues, but when they are made public censorship is demanded!
A wide variety of views have been expressed in the Birmingham press.