BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Urdu Hindi Pashto Bengali Tamil Nepali Sinhala
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: South Asia  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
LANGUAGES
EDITIONS
Wednesday, 25 September, 2002, 18:39 GMT 19:39 UK
Dhaka hardliners protest against play
Muslim activists demonstrate in Dhaka
Playwrights say extremists are targeting theatre groups

Hundreds of militant Islamists in Bangladesh have taken part in protests against a controversial play they say hurts Muslim religious sentiments.


I feel that my freedom of expression is under threat from these extremist groups

Mamunur Rashid, playwright

The play, written by a Hindu playwright, tells the story of a young girl trafficked to India for prostitution.

Muslim leaders are objecting to a sequence of the stage show where a man plays the role of Prophet Mohammad.

But the playwright, Sambit Saha, said there was no such scene in his original manuscript.

The play - Kotha Krishnakoli or Story of Krishnakoli - was first staged in the capital Dhaka several months ago when nobody objected.

Playwright arrested

But in Faridpur, a town nearly 100 kilometres (60 miles) from Dhaka, a stage production of the play drew angry protests from militant Islamic groups.

Exiled author Taslima Nasreen
A torrent of abuse sent Taslima Nasreen into exile

Hundreds of protesters took part in a demonstration in Faridpur on Wednesday demanding that the playwright and the production team be punished.

In the face of continuous protest, police have arrested Sambit Saha and five other people involved with the play's production.

Hard-line Muslim leaders also called upon the government to frame a blasphemy law in parliament so nobody dares to insult any religion.

Fazlul Huq Amini, a parliament member from the ruling coalition, said the play was part of a conspiracy to destroy religious harmony in Bangladesh and destabilise the government.

Freedom 'threatened'

This is not the first instance of militant Islamist threats to cultural and literary freedoms.

The author Taslima Nasreen was virtually hounded into exile by hard-line Muslim groups threatening her on similar grounds.

Leading Bangladeshi playwrights and actors have complained that extremist leaders are trying to make political capital out of the issue by fuelling a campaign against the country's religious minorities.

"Militant Islamic groups are now targeting anybody who was involved with any theatre group in Faridpur," said the playwright Mamunur Rashid.

"They are also trying to instigate communal hatred which is totally unacceptable.

"As a playwright I feel that my freedom of expression is under threat from these extremist groups," Mr Rashid said.

See also:

27 Aug 02 | South Asia
05 Jul 02 | South Asia
26 Sep 98 | South Asia
09 Dec 01 | South Asia
03 Oct 01 | South Asia
16 Aug 02 | Country profiles
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more South Asia stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more South Asia stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes