by Sid H Arthur - Ethnicity & Censorship 26 Sep 2007 04:33 pm

Charles Protests Brick Lane

Prince Charles has pulled out of the Royal Premiere screening of Brick Lane scheduled for October 29. From AIM:

A spokesperson for Clarence House admitted to the Times today that Prince Charles was unable to make it because of the controversy surrounding the film as well as the royal couple’s busy schedule.

“Obviously there has been quite a lot of controversy about that film which everyone was aware of. … The appropriateness of the film chosen is important but so is the date. It is a mixture of both reasons.”

The controversy that the Royals are fleeing from refers to last year’s protests which prevented location filming on Brick Lane. The protests, organised by thugs operating from a sweet shop on Brick Lane, received so much publicity at the time that the film producers had to change the location to somewhere else. As AIM reported at the time:

Abdus Salique is quoted in the Guardian today, warning that “nobody can come with a camera and make a film about that book here”, adding that Monica Ali was “not one of us” and had “insulted us”.

Mr Salique hinted at a potential outbreak of violence. “Young people are getting very involved with this campaign. We had more than 100 people attend yesterday’s meeting. They are willing to blockade the area and guard our streets.”


Another local resident, Abdul Goffur, told AIM magazine that the protest was “blown out of proportion”.

“It’s a minority and they’re trying to make themselves known,” he said. “But I live in Brick Lane and we’ve got a thousand guys who are in support of this. This film will be helpful in opening up our community and helping us progress as a community as a whole.”

The irony is that a tiny, reactionary and potentially violent contingent of protesters claimed to speak on behalf of the entire Bengali community in the East End and yet complained about the lack of authenticity of Ali’s book! The range of opinion of the book that exists within the Bengali community is wide, knowledgeable and heterogenous. But you wouldn’t know that from the news coverage which focused on these thugs who hadn’t even read it.

Predictably a certain section of the British liberal intellegentsia sided with the reactionaries. Germaine Greer showed us how they are unable to move beyond the “noble savage” perception of East End Bangladeshis.

Prince Charles thinks nothing of sharing the dais with the clerical bigot Maulana Delwar Hussain Sayeedi at the East London Mosque, but finds it prudent to avoid controversy by cancelling the Royal Film Premiere. You couldn’t make this up!

Make it a point to see the film in spite of Prince Charles, Germaine Greer and the book burners of Brick Lane.

15 Responses to “Charles Protests Brick Lane”

  1. on 01 Oct 2007 at 10:02 am 1.Samira Ahmed said …

    Can I just add (in a completely unbiased way) that my mum plays the evil Mrs Islam in this so do go and see it.

  2. on 04 Oct 2007 at 2:42 pm 2.thara said …

    This is one occasion when the ‘potentially violent thugs’ who protested against Monica Ali’s novel actually have more popular support amongst British Bangladeshis than the pseudo-secular (but racist) British Bangladeshis using AIM and this two-bit site to disparage them. Monica Ali used her novel to viciously criticise a specific group of British Bangladeshis, the Sylhetis. This group happens to form 90%-95% of the community in the UK. A backlash was inevitable, especially given the fraught nature of Sylheti and Non Sylheti relations over the past decades. Ali no doubt thought this would help sell her book.

    There are over 300,000 British citizens/residents of Sylheti ethnic origin. Prince Charles is a representative of HM Govt and as such (quite rightly) took the sensibilities of the locals of Brick Lane and the wider community into account.

    The only Bengalis who support Ali are a few Non-Sylhetis hiding behind an absolute right of expression/speech, and most of whom actually opposed Salman Rushdie and satanic Verses. Hypocracy knows no bounds with this bunch of unemployable but pompous has-beens.

  3. on 04 Oct 2007 at 7:11 pm 3.sid said …


    Spoken like a true “community leader”. ;-)

    Have you read the book? If so, can you give tell us how it “viciously criticises a specific group of British Bangladeshis, the Sylhetis”? Without the polemics, if you please.

    If you haven’t read the book then take your place in the queue behind the oddball collection of reactionary thugs, religious bigots and book burning misogynists who are protesting this film.

  4. on 05 Oct 2007 at 6:58 am 4.thara said …

    Ahh…the customary Dhakaiya arrogance…

    ‘community leader’?….I’m not an old fogey like you and neither am I associated with Immigrant Bangladeshi groups here as you & your wife are. :D Yet ironically it is we Sylhetis who are accused of trying to recreate little Bangladesh in the UK!

    I refer specifically to Mrs Islam’s bitching about Sylhetis. One suspects that you hold similar views about Sylhetis from your various ‘intellectual’ discussions about our ethnic group all over the net.

    I doubt that branding any group as unworthy of respect, of having stowed away ‘like rats’ on ships and behaving like ‘dirty little monkeys’ is going to endear the auther or the dwindling band of self-styled saviours of liberal secularism to most ppl.

  5. on 05 Oct 2007 at 2:29 pm 5.Sid said …

    Keeping to the topic and nasty personal grievances aside, let me ask again. What specifically about Monica Ali’s book is getting you so rattled?

    If you recognise that characters with the views of ‘Mrs Islam’ exist, and you’ve clearly made accusations that I share these views, why are you censoring Monica Ali for including such a character in a novel? Is it the fictional characters in the novel based on your hated “Dhakaiyas” that makes you support the burning of the book and the boycot of the film? How do you justify the hypocrisy of reciprocating the bigotry of ‘Mrs Islam’ in kind?

  6. on 06 Oct 2007 at 11:31 am 6.ruzina said …

    As far as I know its peoples democratic right to protest. So long as it’s peaceful, who cares?

    As far as Sylhet and Dhaka people go. Hate each others guts. You know a Dhaka person gets riled when they see Sylheti peepz in positions of authority and affluence. Its pitiful.

  7. on 06 Oct 2007 at 11:35 am 7.ruzina said …

    Another thing. How is it the main characters in the novel are all from Mymonshingh in Bangladesh? For an authentic look at life for Bangla peepz gotta be Sylheti.

  8. on 06 Oct 2007 at 12:02 pm 8.Sid said …

    Bit unfair Ruzina. Sylheti people can be as hateful towards non-Sylheties as the other way round. Their tendency to call non-Sylhties “Dhakaiya” (like the commenter above) irrespective of where they come from is amusing as well as narrow-minded.

    Sure people have the right to protest, but they do not have the right to censor and curtail the freedom of expression by trying to stop filming of the book.

    For an authentic look at life for Bangla peepz gotta be Sylheti.

    That’s not even factually correct. There are plenty of British-Bangladeshis who do not come from Sylhet. This blog writer for one. And in any case, it was a novel, not a documentary. Monica Ali never claimed to write a novel about the “Sylhety Immigrant experience”. It was renamed Brick Lane from the original title “Seven Seas” from the Rabrindranath Tagore song. Some Sylheties mistook the book to be exclusively about them because of the title and its assocition of Sylheties with Brick Lane.
    Another reason why the reaction by the Brick Lane book burners was so odd. Since the book is not about Sylheties, why go so crazy mad pagol?

  9. on 06 Oct 2007 at 12:11 pm 9.fugstar said …

    Nice one charley, show us a bit of class. Rise above the gutter throng and perhaps go see a more interesting film!

    I love the movie company promo people, trying to control the damage, post investment. I’ll probably go see it just for the audience reaction and media spin.

  10. on 06 Oct 2007 at 12:20 pm 10.Sid H Arthur said …

    Yeah, and while he’s at it, Charles should delve in some more ethical relativism. How about go ski holidaying with Omar Bakri Muhammed, snorkelling in the Bahamas with war criminal and genodicst Maulana Ghulam Azam, or even serve up filet mignon to bin Laden for dinner at Buckhingham Palce. So much less controversial than seeing a movie about Bangladeshis and pissing off a loud reactionary minority of a minority.

  11. on 06 Oct 2007 at 4:27 pm 11.Sid said …

    No you’re right, Monica Apa is not my heroine and I’m ambivalent about the book, but I’m loathe to stand around while a bunch of Delwar Hussain Sayeedi bumlickers try and shut it down. They can try and do that in Bangladesh, not here. Sad thing is, Bonnie Prince Charlie is a reactionary idiot who is out of depth in a puddle of piss, and is as much a fox-hunting reactionary as the rest of the book burners.

  12. on 06 Oct 2007 at 5:50 pm 12.fugstar said …

    please facts. brick lane mosque and business clique are the anti sayeedi crew. ht probably dont know who he is!

    puddle of peshap indeed. someone needs ghusl.

  13. on 06 Oct 2007 at 7:21 pm 13.Sid said …

    please facts. brick lane mosque and business clique are the anti sayeedi crew. ht probably dont know who he is.

    But the Jamaatis in the MCB and the East London Mosque know him very well, biblically even. ;-)

  14. on 07 Oct 2007 at 3:12 am 14.fugstar said …

    and the bricklane protests have nothing to do with ymo or elm or any religious group. its a wounded bangali pride thing. we dont really do confessional media like monica apa did. greer had it spot on when she said bengali muslims smart at the accusation of being less religious.

  15. on 08 Oct 2007 at 3:06 pm 15.Sid H Arthur said …

    Germaine Greer should be worried less about scoring cheap literary points against fellow authors and more about how her own opus is regarded by the reactionary Bangladeshi. Women’s emancipation groups in Bangladesh look up to Greer as some kind of heroine but here in the UK, for some reason, she feels her role should be supporting the very elements who, back in Bangladesh, call for the ban on measures that improve the lot of women in that highly parochial Bengali-Muslim society. If there is one protaganist in this story who knows less about Bangladesh than Monica Ali, it’s Germaine Greer. :-)

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