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Last Updated: Friday, 24 December, 2004, 19:26 GMT
Should Sikh play have been cancelled?
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A London theatre is considering staging a controversial play which was cancelled following protests by members of the Sikh community.

Managers at the Royal Court Theatre are said to have obtained a copy of Behzti with a view to possibly staging it in the new year.

On Monday, the Birmingham Repertory Theatre dropped the play, which depicts murder and sex abuse in a temple, on safety grounds following clashes between protesters and police.

Is the Royal Court Theatre right to consider staging Behzti? Is it "offensive" to Sikhs and other faiths?


This debate is now closed. Thank you for your e-mails. Read a selection of your comments:

SUGGEST A DEBATE
This topic was suggested by Tom Davies, UK:
What are people's opinions on the protests being held by the Sikh community with regard to a play that they say insults their religion?

Please remember the Sikhs of Birmingham have never called for this play to be banned. They want it to be modified to take place in a community centre. The key issue here is not freedom of speech but one of 'respect' for religion and places of religious worship, be it a Gurdwara, Church Mosque or Synagogue. The 'artist' is using a worn out selfish strategy to provoke outrage. Sikhism is based upon tolerance, freedom, respect and responsibility.
Ravi, Vancouver, Canada

Protesting against the play is one thing, but violence is unacceptable
Steve Knight, Chulmleigh, Devon
I think it is a sad day that a play can be stopped by a violent crowd. Protesting against the play is one thing, but violence is unacceptable. We are told that even to consider the possibility that rape and or murder could take place in a holy building is wrong. And yet these things do happen. I object to being told what I can and cannot watch or think or read by religious advocates. They do not have the right.
Steve Knight, Chulmleigh, Devon

I am aghast that the play has been withdrawn by the theatre; I hope that they will reconsider and reschedule it. Their actions have not only set a dangerous precedent but also led to the "Sikh" community being labelled as intolerant. I do wish that people responding to this thread would not use the word "Sikh community" in quite so facile a way - some hot-heads resorting to violence does not make them representative of a "community".
Krishnan Thampi, Fleet, Hampshire

The simple truth is that the Sikh community had no issue with the story and its characters but its location. This issue was discussed with the theatre prior to Saturday's incident, so why couldn't the author or the theatre amend this? Is it because they wanted the free publicity? Religion is sacred and deep rooted so why go out to deliberately upset the congregation? Theatre provocative? If this perverse story can be accepted what next, a story involving paedophilia, necrophilia etc? What level of decency have we got left in our country?
Bal, Birmingham West Mids

It should not have been cancelled. Full stop. My main concern though is the surprise I feel at the Sikhs being violent! They are a peaceful people who have tried more than anyone to move with the times (including Christianity) with regards to women's role in society. They played a massive part in the WW2 and have every right to be here. I can only think that the violence came from angry young men, which is a symptom of every culture. Lets get things in perspective and not blame the Sikh culture generally for this over reaction.
Barry Gilbert, York, UK

Offence to some, entertainment to others... This play will be long gone and forgotten but the hearts and minds of people with strong religious beliefs have been upset, and they will be remembered for generations. What will these artists stop at?
Satinder Singh Dhami, Southall, UK

The play singles out Sikhs and associates them with murder and sex abuse. Such a play would be deeply offensive to any people or faith it singled out. The authorities should make sure this play does not show.
Mabon Dane, Haverhill, UK

I don't really understand why the playwright had to have this play take place in a temple
Amrit, London

I read the play and it's not that bad. I just think it's disgusting and disgraceful that it took place in a Gurdwara. I don't really understand why the playwright had to have this play take place in a temple to get her message across.
Amrit, London

Perhaps the playwright is covering up the fact that she hasn't much talent by courting controversy and getting her 15 minutes of fame in the wrong way. An old friend of mine has seen the play and said it was awful. If the play goes ahead people will flock to it, just to be rebellious and to see what all the fuss is about.
Chris, London

It was vital the play should not have been cancelled. Allowing violence to censor anything which is not illegal undermines our freedom, hard won over a thousand years.
Steve, Sheffield, UK

I don't see what the big deal is
Mike, NJ, USA

I don't see what the big deal is. If someone staged a play, which depicted rape, murder etc. in a church, temple or mosque, there would be equal outrage. The Sikh community just wanted it moved to a different venue and I, for one, think that's perfectly reasonable. Violence, on the hand, is never an acceptable response.
Mike, NJ, USA

We either have free speech or we don't. Every action, every word, every opinion may be deeply offensive to another person. So I suggest that either we protect all beliefs, lifestyles, political views, and opinions from criticism or all are open to it.
Allan Mackenzie, The Hague, Netherlands

That play should have been cancelled, if the writer was too lazy and bone idle to change the rape scene from inside the Gurdwara to a different location then that's his problem. If you deliberately set out to denigrate somebody's religion, and refuse reasonable requests to change the scene then you reap what you sow. All power to the Sikh community. It is time people stopped turning the other cheek just to satisfy the greed of a bunch of luvvies.
Tommy Taylor, Stonehaven, Scotland

Being a Sikh herself, the writer Gurpreet Kaur Bhatt knew her play would cause such a reaction and has succeeded in achieving exactly what she wanted - gaining cheap publicity for herself!
Andrew North, Birmingham, UK

Surely it is the responsibility of the audience to form opinions, not the religious community? The playwright just presents a vision with the aim of making ordinary people think. This action is hardly inconsistent though. The main goal of religion throughout the centuries has been to prevent ordinary people thinking or forming balanced judgements.
Robert, Reading, UK

I am a gay man and was seeing another man who is a Sikh for a number of years. After much pressure, he ended our relationship as apparently it was against his religion. It is my belief that Sikhism needs to adapt to the twenty-first century and put up with everyone. How can they expect to be accepted if they are not willing to accept others? By way of a footnote, my ex is now married and by all accounts very unhappy.
Martin, London

Theatre should be awkward viewing sometimes, it should provoke thought and discussion. This is a blatant infringement of the producers' freedom of speech. When are we going to stop being over-sensitive with religious belief? It's only a belief and no-one has the right to claim that they are more right than anyone else in their beliefs. Accuse me of oppression all you like, I know I can take criticism of my faith and culture in a non-violent way, why can the Birmingham Sikh community not do the same?
Pete Fielding, Leicester, England

I believe the protest may have been useful advertising
Matthew, Birmingham
This unfortunate sequence of events has piqued my interest in a play that would have otherwise passed me by. I would definitely be interested in going along to a future production to see what all the fuss is about. Contrary to the protesters' wishes, I believe the protest may have been useful advertising.
Matthew, Birmingham

The problem in Birmingham follows hot on the heels of the producers of a play in St. Andrews, Scotland (featuring Jesus and his apostles) being threatened with legal action by Christian protesters. It seems to me that if all these faiths are strong and secure in the courage of their convictions then they should be able to "turn the other cheek" and continue on with their lives practising the good humanist aspects that exist in all religions and not the destructive separatism.
LM, Glasgow, Scotland

I agree with the earlier statements made that the right to freedom of expression must be held sacrosanct. Indeed, it is only this freedom which allows us as Sikhs to practice our faith without hindrance in this country. Unfortunately, every religion has their element of extremism, and these hot-heads who have resorted to violence have given more publicity to the play than would have been otherwise achieved. As a fully practising Sikh, I condemn their actions.
Inderpal Singh, Hounslow, GB

Freedom of speech allows the airing of ideas that will be objectionable to some people within our society. It is then up to those who have been offended to put forward the contrary arguments or views. That is the nature of our society. I shudder at any alternative.
Grahame Steven, Edinburgh, Scotland

I have always thought that the right attitude, and the one that best reflected Western democratic ideals, was summed up in the words attributed to Voltaire: "I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it". Plays cancelled through fear, prisoners detained without trial, planned imposition of identity cards. What is happening to this country?
Martin Kelly, Surrey, England

A playwright should have the freedom to set a play in whatever setting they wish. Especially within the place of worship that they have chosen for their own faith. It is a shame that some sectors of the Sikh community (most of whom have NOT seen the play) chose to act violently at this. Sikhism teaches tolerance and open mindedness, it is a shame these traits were not adopted in this instance. The play should continue in a new venue, one with more strength of conviction to allow the freedom that artists require.
Giles, Birmingham

Religious people are sick and tired of having all that they hold sacred being trampled over
John, Whitby
Has anyone considered that the extreme reaction of the Sikhs, however unfortunate may be due to the fact that this is the only form of protest that will make people realise how offended they were? Religious people are sick and tired of having all that they hold sacred being trampled over by people who want to gain money or fame. Those who argue that this is a free speech issue ought to recognise that to unnecessarily cause offence in the name of free speech is irresponsible.
John, Whitby

I remember going to see the film 'The Devils' starring Oliver Reed some years ago. This depicted terrible scenes of violence and rape, but set on the altar of a Roman Catholic Church. This film was not banned or withdrawn from the cinemas.
Tina Brooke, Nottingham

I have seen the play in question and found it to be thought provoking, upsetting and at times questionable but I totally disagree with censorship of any kind.
H. Mumtaz, Birmingham

As a Christian minister I have a lot of sympathy for the members of the Sikh community but I wonder how the parallel might have been considered and dealt with - namely violence and sexual attack in a church by a clergyman. I heard one Sikh interviewee comment that nothing like what is depicted in the play could apply to a Sikh temple or a Sikh priest. That might in the past have been said of Christians. Sadly we know it not to be true of ourselves, is it absolutely impossible for a Sikh? The standards to which we live are not necessarily fulfilled in our practice. Not having seen the play it is difficult to judge. But I have an uneasy feeling either way.
John, UK

A sad day. A very sad day indeed. This step backwards in Birmingham echoes a global retreat on the journey towards spiritual, ethical and moral courage in reason. In response, I offer this. "The only religions worthy of respect, are those commencing with the following essential text: Brothers and sisters, believe me when I say, we have at least a fifty-fifty chance of being wrong ... now, let us pray".
Labi Siffre, Crickhowell, Powys, UK

We need a full discussion of the content of the play broadcast to properly inform people
Alan Cox, Surrey
I was there to see Behzti performed on Saturday and witnessed the attacks on the theatre by the Sikh crowd that injured policemen and shattered the glass doors. Of course I did not see the play in consequence and cannot therefore comment on its content at first hand. However, from personal discussions with a member of the cast I fear the Sikh community may have been misled by their own leaders as to the play's content and message. We need a full discussion of the content of the play broadcast to properly inform people. This would be a starting point to rebalance perceptions and in the long term, interests of freedom of expression and the Sikh community's standing in Britain which I am convinced has been very severely damaged.
Alan Cox, Surrey

As an emerging playwright I shudder at the implications. I had always assumed I could write what needed to be written, until now. How can society engage in any sensible debate about matters religious if there is no possibility of including those ideas in works of art?
Peter Fyfe, Sydney, Australia

As a Police Officer, who knew colleagues that were injured Saturday night, I realise that the protest went too far and that violence is never the answer. However, for those who say that Sikhism is not tolerant, then I put it to you that your own lack of knowledge is highly deserving. Unlike other Asian religions, Sikhism was the first to promote equal rights for women, it was the first to dismantle the notion of caste elites. Like others have said, it fought for the freedom of other beliefs, i.e. Hinduism, and the price they paid for this was the death of their Gurus. So before everyone judges Sikhs, please take a look at the bigger picture.
Dalvinder Gill, UK

I am a Sikh and personally feel let down by the Sikhs' violent protest! I thought we were supposed to be a peaceful religion. What nonsense!! It is sheer outrageous behaviour and clearly an act by religious fanatics (most of whom have probably not even seen the play. Shame on you!! I did however agree that perhaps the play should have been staged away from the Sikh temple as it was not a fair portrayal of any Sikh temple and was offensive to the true peaceful followers of Sikhism. However, on the other hand it is just a "PLAY"!! I think the play should continue but there does need to be a compromise on the setting!! Think again!!
Abs, London

Only two people protested in defence of the play. Where were the normally outspoken, young, hip and happening crowd of Birmingham?
B. Park, Birmingham UK

Please stop equating freedom of speech with freedom to offend. It is high time that the arts community stops considering itself above and better than the rest of us. Art should be a source of pleasure and not offence. No other profession with public funding could be so deliberately offensive.
Ishrat Mehboob, Solihull

Just because I disagree with something, or am even offended by something does not mean I have the right to commit acts of violence. This is no less than censorship by violence and is the thin end of a very large wedge.
Matt Williams, Birmingham, UK

Scenes of rape and torture should not be portrayed in a mosque, temple or church
Paul Dare, Gravesend, Kent

I believe that the play should not have been placed in a temple. I work with a number of Sikhs and I have never met such an open and sincere community of people. Scenes of rape and torture should not be portrayed in a mosque, temple or church - it's just wrong to set plays especially a comedy that looks into theses issues is fundamentally wrong in places of which are holy to people.
Paul Dare, Gravesend, Kent

I think it's a bit sad that part of the Sikh community found this offensive. I heard comments on the radio to the effect that "we shouldn't be portraying these events as everyday life in the Sikh community". Surely, a tenet of theatrical art is that you don't usually portray "the everyday". A play which will make people think has to provoke thoughts in the observer that they haven't already explored fully.

Nobody in the Sikh community should imagine that putting these scenes in the play would make anybody believe it represented something likely to happen in real life. The real pity is that their faith doesn't appear strong enough to accept this.
Tony Gale, Northants, England

If you don't think you'll like a play or film, don't watch it
Barry, Greenock, Scotland

How many protestors actually went to see the play? If you don't think you'll like a play or film, don't watch it. Similarly, no-one is forced to read a book.
Barry, Greenock, Scotland

It's a play for goodness sake. Once again mob-rule decides what's best for the rest of us.
Barb Garner, Golden Cross, E Sussex

This is a very serious matter indeed. Are we now going to be forced to change - and that is censorship by the way - plays and literature at the behest of which ever group happens to be on their hobby-horse at that particular time? Worst of all this was not even a peaceful demonstration. Birmingham city council have presided over a debacle that gives the signal that throwing bricks gets you what you want and that artists and intellectuals should fear the mob. Everyone involved should be ashamed of themselves. I am utterly disgusted.
Guy Billings, Edinburgh, UK

If a similar play had taken place using a church as the setting I would be surprised if it would even have raised an eyebrow. Once more we are scared witless in case we offend an ethnic minority. Instead we end up being censored. Britain has given up on one of its great virtues - freedom of speech. So, why not now hand over Salman Rushdie on a plate to the leaders who placed the Fatwa on him?
Patrick B, Halifax, UK

As a 16-year-old Sikh I was sorry to hear that the protests had to reach the stage of becoming violent. I strongly agree with freedom of speech but this is not the issue here! What person of any religion would find the idea of rape and murder acceptable in such a holy and well respected place- whether it be a Gurdwara or Mosque?!
J Kular, Norwich

The Sikh people had a right to protest peacefully if they felt that the play was insensitive. But there is never an excuse for violence. They demeaned themselves and their point of view.
Vicki, Harrow

The theatre should have complied with Sikh's request
Gurnam S Somal, Ditchingham

I am, like most other sensible people, pleased the play has been cancelled, the playwrights and the theatre should have complied with Sikh's request that the rape scenes which were very offensive to the Sikh community be re-located to another location. This could have been done easily without affecting the main theme of the play. Sikhism is based on free speech and equality for women. I find it deplorable that so many people on your programme are using the argument of free speech for a play, the play could have still had its say by just making the minor change.
Gurnam S Somal, Ditchingham, UK

The fact is that the play has more controversial aspects to it. The homosexual priest and rape were not objected to by the Sikhs - doesn't this show tolerance? What was objected to was the scenes in the temple which they asked to be changed to another place - what is wrong with this? Would this not have been a compromise by the theatre? Sikhs are not against freedom of speech and indeed if you look at their history you will see that their Gurus gave their lives so Hindus could practise their beliefs in freedom. What was objected to was showing the actual Gurdwara (i.e. Place of God) in this way.
Kully, Slough

The Sikh community has no problem in exploring issues relating to society in general but there was no need to stage the play in a sacred place of worship. It should be noted that Sikhism preached equality of the sexes and religious freedom in the 16th century (a time when Catholics in England were being burned at the stake) and can be construed as a very progressive and peaceful religion. Would the REP have allowed the play to commence if it was staged in a mosque - I think not, the consequences would have been even more severe.
Bal Singh, Birmingham

Blatant censorship nothing more. Another example of religion being used by narrow minded people to bypass freedom. Sikhs have the right to peacefully demonstrate but once they stopped being peaceful they became fanatics. Freedom belongs to everyone even if you don't like it, that's the point.
Chris Davies, Chippenham, UK

Birmingham REP should not have cancelled the play. They have a duty towards freedom of speech and expression and the police have an obligation to protect the public from harm. If the police were willing to carry out their part then the managers of the theatre should have done their part.
Ron Dyett, Biggleswade, England

Having lived through Pinochet's censorship of the arts during the 70s and 80s in Chile, when I read this news I wondered if this was happening back then or in the actual UK? Sikhs should respect other people's view, but it is obvious that they don't know the meaning of the word tolerance.
Mariana Fassnidge, Santiago, Chile

This act of censorship by violence is reprehensible and will most likely do more harm than good
Phil Dando, London, UK

We are always told to be tolerant of other religions, and yet those same religions often display a staggering degree of intolerance to anything that doesn't conform to their set view of the world. This act of censorship by violence is reprehensible and will most likely do more harm than good to the Sikh community.
Phil Dando, London, UK

Let's make one thing perfectly clear, Sikhs have not asked for the play to be banned. Their request was to change the venue of the play setting to something which is not classed as a place of worship. Therefore, to bring the question of freedom of speech into this sorry affair is misleading. The Rep and the Writer knew exactly what they were doing. Why didn't they do the right thing and make this minor change? And a message to Jeremy (below), Sikh women have more freedom than most. With freedom of speech, which my family fought for and died for, comes common sense and responsibility. The Rep management and the Writer have failed in this regard.
Jag Singh, Wolverhampton

It may well be that some of the protesting was a little on the heavy side, but what most people in this country just don't realise is that you can't just trample on people's religious sensitivities to facilitate an evening of superficial spectacle for bourgeois humanists who neither know about nor care about the lives of Sikhs, even if the play was written by a 'Sikh'.
GCP, Preston, Lancs

I went to see the play, and as a 28-year-old British Sikh (female) it made for uncomfortable viewing as I have never heard or witnessed rape, murder and beatings within a Gurdwara (Sikh temple). It was far too unrealistic and crazy. Had I researched and known this before, I would have chosen not to watch the play. The writer has achieved her desired effect - controversy and 15 minutes of fame and although we are all within our rights to protest/boycott, unfortunately a small minority decided violence was the best way to voice their views. I don't think the play should have been withdrawn but perhaps the venue changed.
Rupy, Birmingham, UK

It's just another example of religious fanatics causing a fuss
Neil, Southend, Essex, UK
The specific religion mentioned in the play is immaterial. It's just another example of religious fanatics causing a fuss to impose their narrow viewpoint on those who don't share it. If they didn't like the subject matter then so what, no-one there was being forced to attend the play. These protestors have done more harm to the image of Sikhism than some minor play in a provincial theatre. If they performed it in the south I'd now be interested in going to see the damn thing just to see what all the fuss was about!
Neil, Southend, Essex, UK

The play should go ahead. This sets the wrong precedent entirely. Abandoning this is similar to giving in to terrorist demands. A bad day for the freedom of speech.
Erik, London

I think the Sikh protesters were justified in their protests, however causing damage and harm to others in the process is totally unacceptable and goes against everything the Sikh faith represents. The vast majority who were protesting were good hearted individuals but once again it has taken the actions of a few to bring shame to the community.
Kalwinder Singh Dhindsa, Derby, England

Why on earth need the play be withdrawn? So some folks may be offended. It is their choice to be offended and if they want to make that a problem for themselves that is okay. It is not okay to seek to make it a problem for others.
Raymond F. Breakspear, Kent, UK

Why not show what really goes on in Sikh Temple - worship of the Almighty!
G Singh, Ilford, Essex
Being a Sikh myself, I am disgusted that the theme deployed by this play has centred itself in a Sikh temple. If plays depicting 'criminal' acts are to be staged - why choose a religious place of worship? Why not show what really goes on in Sikh Temple - worship of the Almighty !! Be it a Church, a Mosque, Hindu Temple and so on, choosing any House of worship is beyond belief. The writer should have known better especially being a Sikh. No faith would accept this and would be offended, as has been the case. Freedom of expression? So it's okay to offend the majority ?
G Singh, Ilford, Essex

I am all for "responsible" freedom of speech, but need the play have been set in a Sikh temple? Why not some other venue, even with the same story, cast, etc? Depicting such acts in any place of worship would be offensive.
David, Luton, UK

I note with interest that the play was written by a female Sikh and that almost every protester I saw on the news footage was male - I only spotted one female. I think that tells a story in itself.
Jeremy, Milton Keynes

If this play was in a Christian setting, it would have been subject to some tut-tutting by the Christian community, but because it's about an eastern religion which now has a substantial minority of followers in the UK, it has been withdrawn. Where will it all end?
Dafydd, London, UK

Being a Sikh myself, I feel that we do have bigger and more profound things to worry about. But surely does the artistic community not also have a responsibility to be wary of self serving artists bent on creating deliberate and unnecessary controversy?
Jatinder Singh, Slough, UK

The concept of banning anything on religious grounds is fundamentally wrong. This is a free country and everyone has the right to question and challenge all views whether political or religious. We should accept and respect other people's beliefs but we should not be forced to change our lives so that they can dictate how we should think.
Gordon, Brigg, UK

It's not like people are forced to go and watch this play. If you don't like the content then stay away. Whatever happened to freedom of speech in this country?
JS, Alton

Here we go again - another play by an "artist" who knew full-well she would cause controversy - thus giving her 15 mins of fame she clearly craves. The Sikhs would do themselves and the rest of us a favour by keeping their protest moderate and reasonable. That way, we might have fewer of these puerile attempts to gain "notoriety".
Robert Matthews, Oxford

The protestors were peaceful, law abiding citizens
Iqbal Singh, Midlands, UK
I disagree with those people who describe the Sikhs as being intolerant in this matter. Contrary to some opinions the Sikh representatives have not asked for the play to be completely cancelled, as this would be classed as censorship. They have merely attempted to negotiate with both the play writer and the theatre itself to reach a compromise to change very small aspects of the play, which are causing offence namely the venue of a number of scenes away from a Sikh Temple. To me this is being anything but intolerant. Having been at the protests the majority of the protestors were peaceful, law abiding citizens and it was only a very small handful who let the rest of the Sikh community down with their behaviour.
Iqbal Singh, Midlands, UK

Considering that the play was actually written by a Sikh and the producers at every step have tried to keep everybody in the loop I don't see why there's such a problem. People are too sensitive over what is "just a play". If the play is banned then it's nothing more than another notch in the belt of those who don't like the concept freedom of speech.
Paul, Swansea

Why don't they just give it some kind of caution rating? Those who don't want to see it don't have to. It's a fictional story - what are they so afraid of?
Liz, London

Setting the scene in a place of worship is naive
Sukh Singh, Kent
Some of the comments made here about freedom of speech is pure tripe. I am a young Sikh and am all for freedom of speech; but from what I have read about this play, it is something that was written and produced to provoke without thought. To the person who knows nothing about the religion, and visits the play, will experience an extreme misrepresentation of the religion. Sex abuse/rape, homosexuality etc is not 'common practice' in the Gurudwara, and to present such scenes in a drama goes beyond the realms of decency. Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with a play which has a 'Sikh' committing such heinous crimes, but setting the scene in a place of worship is naive if not incitement for some sort of aggressive response from people who feel so strongly about where our '11th Guru' resides... And to top it off, a so called 'Sikh' is the playwright behind this scandal!
Sukh Singh, Kent

The issue of religious tolerance is a very difficult balancing act, along with that of freedom of speech. What the Sikh community in Birmingham has done is given a massive amount of publicity to a niche play which may have been seen by a few hundred people. The issue will now be debated by potentially millions of people and Sikhs have been shown to engage in violent behaviour, albeit in defence of their religion. In PR terms I question if is this really a good outcome for them. The great thing about a true democracy is that people can express their opinions and sometimes these are pretty unpleasant. This is the price of freedom, enjoy it while you still can.
Chris Parker, Buckingham

I am saddened to see my hometown marred by an outbreak of violent intolerance to legitimate artistic expression by a member of the Sikh community. I hope these are the actions of a small and irresponsible minority in what is otherwise a city where there is tolerance and harmony.
Tom, London

Free speech must be preserved
Gary Heron, Falkirk, UK
No, the play should not be withdrawn. Free speech must be preserved and that includes the right to say something which may offend others. It is not acceptable that any religion should have the right to ban a play, film, novel, work of art etc because they find it offensive.
Gary Heron, Falkirk, UK

As a young British Sikh I'm not sure what reflects Sikhs in a worse light - this play, or the way this protest turned violent. Freedom of speech is extremely important in today's society and so both sides have the right to say what they wish. The Theatre has the right to put on this play and the protesters and the local community have the right to object to it. However, in a peaceful manner showing the public that the play does not depict a true Sikh way of life and that we are a community of peaceful law abiding citizens. The individuals who turned to violence need to ask themselves what good they have achieved.
Sunny, Warwickshire

If they (the protesters) get their way we may as well all just stay at home. This is "blatant censorship" if they succeed then our lives may as well stop since everything that is done, said or seen is going to offend someone. We live in a broadly secular society no group has the right to force their religious beliefs on us.
John, UK

As the play breaks no laws then the protestors are only making their own position worse if they attempt to censor something because they don't like it. The freedom in this country that allows such plays is the same freedom that allows people to voice their opposition. The violence goes beyond that freedom and does nothing for the reputation of those involved. If you don't like the play then don't go and see it.
Andrew, Northampton

We live (for the time being) in a democracy which allows freedom of speech and which has laws which allow certain publications/productions to be censored if deemed inappropriate. Presumably this production is deemed fit for public performance within those parameters. Occasionally there may be aspects of all cultures/religions that come into the public domain that certain individuals may find sensitive. This is no excuse for violence and destruction.
Andy D, Oxford UK

I think that the Sikhs are being a bit too intolerant to this play - although it may be controversial. Other religions have been used this way in plays in the past - I do not see why a religion should be excluded from a play because of possible violent backlashes in a country where freedom of speech is not restricted.
Mitch Rowley, Cardiff, Wales

Religious censorship is always wrong. Look at all the plays, books, TV shows and films that show similar acts happening in Christian churches. I hope the days when a religion, any religion, can censor what I can see or do are long past.
David Patrick, Reading, UK

Just goes to show how intolerant religious zealots really are. They only believe in free speech when they like what they hear. What's wrong with showing the unsavoury side of any religious community?
Maria, Kent, UK




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