First Behzti, Now Birmingham to Present Muslim Brothel Play Bells

News   First Behzti, Now Birmingham to Present Muslim Brothel Play Bells
Theatre fans in Birmingham are hoping to avoid a rerun of last year when the Birmingham Repertory Theatre's production of Behzti was canceled after violent Sikh protests.

The same theatre will now present Bells, a play that depicts Muslim women trapped in the sex trade. Despite the theme of Bells, by the Anglo-Pakistani writer Yasmin Whittaker-Khan, U.K. Muslim leaders have called for calm. Speaking to The Independent newspaper, Izbal Sacranie, the secretary general of the Muslim Council of Great Britain, said, "There is no reason to respond in an extreme manner [if the religion is not denigrated]. . . We would not seek to prevent this play being held." The earlier show by Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti, who went into hiding with police protection, included a scene where a woman was raped in a Sikh temple. The local Sikh community was highly offended, and some protestors made death threats against Bhatti.

European theatres are seeing an uncommon number of large protests at the moment. As well as the Behzti affair, the U.K. tour of Jerry Springer — The Opera is under threat from Christian fundamentalists, and the Bolshoi Opera in Moscow has been picketed by demonstrations over a new work about cloning.

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