Saturday, 2 June 2012

Bells - Yasmin Whittaker Khan

Perhaps you may recall that on December 20th of last year, the Birmingham Rep decided to cancel its run of 'Behzti' after protests and voilence from the Sikh community which resulted in several police officers being injured and three arrests. Despite the violence being caused by a small minority of the 400 strong crowd, the Birmingham Rep bowed to pressure because it could not guarantee the safety of its audiences and staff. The playwright Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti is reported to be hiding in fear after receving death threats. The Rep sustained several thousand pounds worth of damage during the riots.

Tomorrow the Rep is featuring a new drama called 'Bells' which is written by playwright Yasmin Whittaker Khan and which delves into the seedy world of the Muslim brothels. The playwright has decided to expose the hypocrisy of some Muslim religious men who visit such brothels. The scenes are not sexually graphic but they are set in Britain.

Birmingham Central Mosque have been reported as saying that they are against the play and fear that it will be percieved as an attack on Muslims and that it is offensive.

These brothels or 'Mujra Clubs' as they are called are thought to be operating in Britain already. In Pakistan, girls are sometines kidnapped or forced into working for the clubs. Mujra Clubs are supposed to be an old tradition in Pakistan where the girls sing and dance for their audience.
However, IMC India reports that many girls are promised parts in Bollywood movies and instead end up being sent to the UK to work in the clubs where they carry out sexually explicit versions of Bollywood song and dance in private settings. It goes further to announce that these are showcases for protitution and that the girls 'service' a large number of Asians.

No doubt within days of its opening we will see some form of demonstration or protest on behalf of the Muslim Community. Whilst most British citizens would argue for individual rights and the freedom of speech, this kind of forced closure of sensitive issues by the ethnic community can only alienate and segregate people. It is likely to do more harm than good.

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