Sikh Play Sparks Debate Over Freedom of Expression Vs. Inciting Prejudice

December 26, 2004

Source: The Observer,,1379786,00.html

On December 26, 2004 The Observer reported, "Jagdeesh Singh is a Sikh who believes his religion is grossly misrepresented... 'It is hardly surprising that Sikhs are sensitive about this play,' he said. 'We live every day with racism based on misinformation. You have to balance the desire for freedom of expression with the fact that it could provoke even greater prejudice.'

Singh was referring to the controversial play Behzti (Dishonour), which depicts rape and murder inside a gurdwara, a Sikh temple. The production was cancelled by the Birmingham Repertory Theatre last Monday after a week of peaceful protests by the Sikh community erupted into violence. Bricks were thrown through theatre windows as police struggled to hold back an angry crowd...The battle became one between freedom of speech and respect for beliefs. But are the two incompatible?"