Sikh play author 'in hiding' after death threats

Last Updated: 1:06am GMT 23/12/2004

The author of a controversial play which had its run ended after violent protests by Sikhs has said she does not want it to be re-staged because of death threats.

Birmingham Rep
Birmingham Rep Theatre

Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti said she feared for her safety after threatening letters.

It has been reported that Ms Kaur Bhatti is in hiding.

A theatre boss who had offered to re-stage the play has also had threatening letters, he said.

The play Bezhti was pulled after the Birmingham Repertory Theatre said it could not ensure the safety of its staff following violent scenes outside. Local faith leaders said they could not ensure there would not be a repeat of the violence.


Members of the Sikh community had thrown stones and clashed with police last Saturday.

They say the play, which depicted a rape and murder in a fictional temple, was blasphemous and offensive.

Neal Foster, the actor-manager of the Birmingham Stage Company, had offered to put on Bezhti after the Birmingham Repertory Theatre cancelled further shows on Monday.

But he late said he too was pulling out following a request by the play's author, Ms Kaur Bhatti.

He said: "The plan I came up with was to invite theatres across the country to read the play and discuss it afterwards, to have a debate so there was more understanding about the whole issue.

"I was proceeding with these plans until last night, when I received a request from the author."

The request was made because of the "increased threats" to her safety, said Mr Foster, who also said he had received several threatening phone calls.

Sikh community leaders in Birmingham and elsewhere welcomed the Rep's decision to cancel the three-week run.

But it was criticised in many quarters as effectively censorship and the stifling of free speech.

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