Sikhs Lose In Play Controversy

Who loses in the controversy over shutting down a Sikh play in Birmingham? Britain’s Sikh community. “In a single act the community has overturned years of hard work and reverted to type as a militant tradition fixated with narrow communal interests. Doubtless the mobilisation will be seen as another nail in the coffin of freedom of speech, coming close on the heels of the murder of Dutch film-maker Theo van Gogh in the Netherlands and the proposed legislation on incitement to religious hatred. What these interpretations overlook, however, is the pioneering role of Sikhs in framing British multiculturalism, the contribution – unwittingly – of the British state in promoting the idiom of religion in public life, and the deep tensions within the Sikh community itself that have produced such a play.”