Hanif Kureishi in the Saturday Guardian on why political theatre is needed:
Racism was a daily occurrence for most Asians in Britain. But the characters in the play refer often to the possibility of an “invasion”, something they were afraid of and disturbed by, as it had already happened.In April 1979, the police allowed the fascist National Front to hold a meeting in Asian Southall. Two weeks earlier the residents met the Labour home secretary, Merlyn Rees, to ask him to ban the Front’s meeting. On the day before the march, 5,000 people went to Ealing Town Hall in support of banning the National Front’s meeting, handing in a petition signed by 10,000 residents. Local factories also agreed to strike in protest. Rees refused to give way. It was a question of free speech, even for fascists.
He also mentions the Satanic Verses controversy:
During the 10 years between the Southall riots and the demonstration against The Satanic Verses, the community had become politicised by radical Islam, something that had been developing throughout the Muslim world since decolonisation.
Once this ideology had been adopted – and political conversations could only take place within its terms – it entailed numerous constraints, locking the community in, as well as divorcing it from possible sources of creativity: dissidence, criticism, sexuality. [via Amitava Kumar]
This is, in essence, something not many Asians really understand. All the communities – Muslim, Sikh and Hindu over have become politicised the past decade as religion has become their main form of identity rather than race. But with that comes internal censorship. You do anything out of line, you’re not just insulting your community, you are seen as insulting the entire religion.
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Filed in: Culture,Race politics,Religion