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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 December, 2004, 04:59 GMT
Protest play may move to London
Behzti poster
Behzti is Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti's second play
London's Royal Court could stage the play which prompted violent protests among the Sikh community in Birmingham.

Royal Court theatre bosses said it had obtained a copy of Behzti with a view to possibly staging it in the new year.

Behzti had its run cancelled in Birmingham after three police officers were injured when 400 demonstrators protested outside the theatre.

Protesters said the play, which depicts sex abuse and murder in a temple, portrayed the Sikh faith negatively.

'Forgotten about'

Ramin Gray, associate director of the Royal Court Theatre said: "Irrespective of the quality of this play I think we have to see it.

"We cannot allow this to be simply shunted aside and forgotten about but I don't think this will happen."

This could mean they would stage a private reading where if a panel of directors approve it could mean a public performance at the theatre.

Behzti, which translates as "dishonour" was written by a young female Sikh, Gurpreet Kaur Bhatt, and was said to have been inoffensive to younger Sikhs.

Royal Court Theatre
Sikh leaders are concerned the play could be staged in London
Birmingham's Repertory Theatre, which cancelled the play on health and safety grounds, said the "ugly" violence had caused free speech to be curbed.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster, told BBC London: "There's a balance to be kept here between freedom which I think is rightly cherished in this country.... but there's also some kind of self-censorship that playwrights too have to realise that some things could be very offensive to people."

Harmander Singh from the Sikhs in England Organisation said tensions were bound to rise.

"She's bringing in social issues and putting them in a religious setting which upsets people and tensions will rise.

"Problems that they have had up north will manifest themselves in London if the play is staged here."

Scotland Yard said they had been contacted by Sikh leaders concerned about any possibility that the play could be staged in London.




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