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Last Updated: Friday, 17 December, 2004, 13:02 GMT
Protest against 'anti-Sikh' play
Police were called to a theatre during a protest by a group who are calling for a play to be withdrawn because they say it is offensive to Sikhs.

They claim Behzti, at Birmingham Repertory Theatre, mocks the Sikh religion because it depicts sexual abuse and murder in a temple.

The theatre says the play is a work of fiction and no comment is being made about Sikhism as a faith.

Protesters have met with theatre bosses to see if a compromise can be reached.

The characters in the play are not intended to be representative of the Sikh community
Birmingham Repertory Theatre
The play centres around two characters and is set in a gurudwara, a Sikh temple,

Sawa Singh Mandla, Chair of the Council of Sikh Gurudwaras in Birmingham, said he felt the organisers could have done more to address their concerns before the protest took place.

He said: "The management of the Rep, at a lower level, were good enough to consult with us when they became aware of the cause for concern within the Sikh community and consulted Sikh elders who showed their concerns.

"But it is sad that having consulted the community and hearing our concerns they still did nothing about it."

Four arrests

In a statement, the Birmingham Repertory said: "The REP has been transparent with leaders in the Sikh community about the content and nature of the play in discussions over the last few months, and has agreed to provide audiences with a statement written by those community members who do not approve of the play.

"The theatre has also made efforts to ensure positive representation of Sikhism as a faith in its programme notes.

"Equally the characters in the play are not intended to be representative of the Sikh community.

"They are works of fiction characterising the fallibility of human nature and the injustice and hypocrisy that exists in the real world."

West Midlands Police said four people were arrested during the protest on Thursday.

Three people were bailed pending further inquiries and one person was cautioned.

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