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Sikh News Behzti (dishonour) By Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti - Reviewed


Jul 13, 2004
theres a protest happening in birmingham agaist this play, i cant go cause its too far away and i have school,that woman is a traitor. :}:)


Dec 20, 2004
Has anyone seen this play ---
what is so big deal ... ?

I just read bbc.com regarding a protest and there was a little summary regarding why there was a protest ?, just wanted to get little bit more details to what was so offensive.....



Dec 21, 2004
singhaj said:
Has anyone seen this play ---
what is so big deal ... ?

I just read bbc.com regarding a protest and there was a little summary regarding why there was a protest ?, just wanted to get little bit more details to what was so offensive.....

The offencive part as I understand, and agree with, is that the sacred holy symbols and Gurdwara is used in a blasphemous manner. Religion is a personal and sacred belief and should be respected, wheather one is a Sikh, Christian, or even a Non believer. Peaceful protests for several days did not achieve the very modest demands, which were to remove the Holy symbols and Gurdwara from the play. The Christian Church supported these demands and we should be greatful for that. If we do not take a stand on issues like this, then the next play would go further and who knows where it would end. Democracy and freedom of speech does not mean that Gurpreet should be silenced or that Religion can be rediculed. A happy compromise should be found that does not offend ANY Religion and also enable writers like Gurdeep to express their talents.


Dec 21, 2004
Shame on you Gurpreet, shame on you!
The western media are jumping on the bandwagon and they will promote such trashy play's under the guise of freedom of speech. The BBC itself banned a play back in the 1980's because the BBC said it was too pro-Thatcher, where was freedom of expression then?
Jul 13, 2004

After reading that particular portion of the play's script I do not think her intentions were to insult Sikhism anyway. She is clearly not devout and does not realise the divinity of Gurbani and that it should not be heard whilst scenes of rape are going on.
I think all she wanted to do was make a good English style play with an Indian twist, I do not think there was intentions to hurt people but she should have looked at the fact she was putting religion in her play which has always been a sensitive issue in society, which she was probably being ignorant about.

Tejwant Singh

Jun 30, 2004
Henderson, NV.
It is sad to see some parochial minded people who see things through their own myopic vision rather than from a '360 degree wide and zoom lenses' of Gurbani, to act in such an ANTI GURMAT manner.

Lets ask the following questions to ourselves:-

1. Has any Sikh of any prominence raped a person?

2. Has any Sikh become a thief or a robber?

3. Has any Sikh stolen anything from anyone?

4. Has any Sikh commited adultry?

5. Does any Sikh make a mistake?

If the answers to all the above and many other questions is 'NO', then our name SIKH is a misnomer because, as we do not make a mistake, we we can not call oursleves SIKHS.

If the above is 'YES' which undoubtedly it is, then we should commend Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti for having the sikhi strength, courage, bravura and the SIKHI WISDOM to expose the dark side of any soceity and use it in a way so, all can have an open disucussion and look within as true Sikhs, hence find the ways to combat the ills which infest all soceites, religions and faiths.

We should thank Gurpreet ji for showing us the ugly naked side of ourselves and have the GURMAT COURAGE to openly discuss it in the Gurdwaras and rather than drawing plans for building huge 'WHITE ELEPHANTS', we should open clinics in every gurdwara that can treat the ones who suffer from any kind of addiction which is harmful to self. Only by confronting the truth collectively (as we do not want to face it on our own), can we feel proud of being Learners, Seekers and carry the true meaning of SIKH as a stripe on the shoulder of a Sant Sipahi rather than a chip.

My .02 cents



Foreword to the play Behzti, by Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti
20th December, 2004

by Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti
Playwright and actress

Truth is everything in Sikhism, the truth of action, the truth of an individual, God's truth. The heritage of the Sikh people is one of courage and victory over adversity. Our leaders were brave revolutionaries with the finest minds, warriors who propagated values of egalitarianism and selflessness.

But sometimes I feel imprisoned by the mythology of the Sikh diaspora. We are apparently a living, breathing success story, breeding affluence through hard work and aspiration. There is certainly much to be proud of and our achievements and struggles have been extraordinary. They are a testament to our remarkable community - energetic, focussed and able. But where there are winners there must be losers. And loss.

I find myself drawn to that which is beneath the surface of triumph. All that is anonymous and quiet, raging, despairing, human, inhumane, absurd and comical. To this and to those who are not beacons of multiculturalism, who live with fear and without hope and who thrive through their own versions of anti-social behaviour. I believe it is necessary for any community to keep evaluating its progress, to connect with its pain and to its past. And thus to cultivate a sense of humility and empathy; something much needed in our angry, dog eat dog times.

Clearly the fallibility of human nature means that the simple Sikh principles of equality, compassion and modesty are sometimes discarded in favour of outward appearance, wealth and the quest for power. I feel that distortion in practice must be confronted and our great ideals must be restored. Moreover, only by challenging fixed ideas of correct and incorrect behaviour can institutionalised hypocrisy be broken down.

Often, those who err from the norm are condemned and marginalized, regardless of right or wrong, so that the community will survive. However, such survival is only for the fittest, and the weak are sometimes seen as unfortunates whose kismet is bad. Much store is set by ritual rooted in religion - though people's preoccupation with the external and not the internal often renders these rituals meaningless.

My play reflects these concerns. I believe that drama should be provocative and relevant. I wrote BEHZTI because I passionately oppose injustice and hypocrisy. And because writing drama allows me to create characters, stories, a world in which I, as an artist, can play and entertain and generate debate.

The writers who I admire are courageous. They present their truths and dare to take risks whilst living with their fears. They tell us life is ferocious and terrifying, that we are imperfect and only when we embrace our imperfections honestly, can we have hope.

In order for a story to be truly universal I think it is important to start with what is specific. Though the play is set in a Gurdwara, its themes are not confined to Sikhism, and it is my intention that a person of any faith, or indeed of no faith, could relate to its subject matter.

Over the years there have been many robust dramas about world religions. Sikhism is a relatively new entrant to this arena and I am aware of the sensitivity around such discussion.

The human spirit endures through the magic of storytelling. So let me tell you a story.

Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti
December 2004>>>


Dec 23, 2004
By now most of you must have heard about the incident in Birmingham UK.

Sikhism has always been a very tolerant religion. True there have been the fundamental elements in our religion as is seen with most religions.

Sikh playwright Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti's "Behzti" (Dishonor) has received death threats from the Sikh Community.

This is very reminiscent of the Fatwah issued by the Muslim religious leaders against Indian author Salman Rushdie.

This is precisely what the Shiv Sena did in Bombay and other parts of India, when they burnt down theaters and ransacked film theaters that screened, " Fire " by Deepa Mehta. That film challenged the male patriarchy that pushed two lonely women to seek sexual solace in each other's company. http://www.umiacs.umd.edu/users/sawweb/sawnet/news/fire.html

Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti's play deals with homosexuality besides other issues.

Is the Sikh community saying that there is no place for homosexuality in the Sikh community? Are we saying that we cannot carry on an intelligent conversation and disagree with each other. Can we discuss without killing and burning?

Are we being any different, when we riot and threaten a member of our own community who had the courage to write a play and shown even greater courage by staging it, well aware about the possible reaction the play would evoke.

400 turbaned protesters pelted the playhouse with stones. Shame on us.

The play's author, Sikh woman Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti, has gone into into hiding after receiving death threats, according to friends, Shame on us.

Kim Singh

Executive Director

Asian American Public Policy Institute

4546 El Camino Real, Suite B10-129

Los Altos, Ca 94022

Ph: 650 346 5998


Oct 5, 2004
A viewpoint taken from another messageboard. Placed more in-reply to Kim Singh's post who seems to be mis-informed on the actual events such as "400 poeple pelting stones" where it was more like 2 or 3 people with very little patience, and the extent of the damage included just 2 broken windows and a damaged door...:-

Behzti play; Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti and Birmingham Repertory Theatre dishonour Sikh community

The Behzti play caused uproar in the British Sikh community. The play sparked several days of non-stop peaceful protests in which literature was distributed about the Sikh religion and some of the misinformation by the play was corrected. However on the last day of protesting there was sporadic violence in which the Birmingham Repertory Theatre's window and door as well as effects inside were damaged. The important questions are what sparked this situation and what are its implications?

What sparked the Sikh community?
Unlike what several media sources are currently stating it was NOT the wording of the play that caused gratuitous offence felt by the Sikh community.
The offence was caused by the denigration of Sikh symbols on-stage; a fact ignored by the media and other criticisers of the Sikh community. The aggregated effect of using all these Sikh symbols was to create the Gurdwara context for the play. However the symbols were not just used for the context but were abused as well. A turban was placed on a shoe-rack; since the turban is worn not only by members of the Sikh religion but also culturally in Africa and Asia; this would have caused offence to many communities and races as well as religions. The mock-up of the Guru Granth Sahib (Holy Scriptures) may have been an imitation but still makes a mockery of the living embodiment of God in the Sikh religion. The use of pictures of Sikh Gurus, and other important members of the religion held in highest reverence, religious swords, the 'Ek-Onkar' symbol (the Name of God), all were used as a backdrop. The disrespect of symbols in this manner was equivalent to the public burning of a Cross. Would this NOT have caused offence to a majority of Britain?...

What are the implications?
The Sikh community at no stage requested complete censorship of the play. Also the shocking unfairness of the fact that the entire Sikh community was blamed, by the Arts community and some members of the media. Is the whole of English society ever blamed for the actions of unruly soccer fans? Also this was one instance in decades not like the regular and more sizeable football violence that occurs up and down the country and abroad, causing much greater damage in any instance. The West Midlands Police stated it could ensure the safety of theatre-goers since it could handle football crowds of 40,000 fans at matches regularly then it could handle a few hundred Sikh protestors especially since most of them were peaceful. So the question remains as to why did Birmingham Rep. theatre stop the play since the Police could easily handle the protestors? The only answer can be for commercial reasons. Basic spin-doctoring suggests they used this as a marketing ploy... they used the Media to 'whip up' demand for the theatre and it's plays and providing important publicity.
These symbols could have been removed without changing the writing of the play and would have removed the major bulk of the offence caused and definitely would have reduced the protestors. However this fact was made clear to the organisers of the play repeatedly over many months by the Sikh community but it was clear they wanted a public confrontation and much-needed publicity to get 'bums on seats'. The playwright and theatre were adamant on using BNP-style tactics of causing offence to religious minorities by playing on stereotypes and prejudices innate to our society to create intolerance and mass protests. Who has all this publicity benefited? Play-critics gave the play poor reviews in the national and local press and the play received few ticket sales from theatre-goers prior to the last day of protests. However since the last day of protests and wider media involvement the play, the writer and the theatre are now the most famous of their kind in the country. Does the public at large really believe the Media should have given this one incident international headline news coverage, even above Tony Blair's visit to further Middle-East peace negotiations, instances of major violence such as mass murders, and the continuing war in Iraq?

The Sikh community meanwhile have been hit with more negative PR than the days of Enoch Powell; standing for election in an area known for being home to a large populace of Sikhs. In the days following the protests there were bomb scares at Gurdwaras in Smethwick and West Bromwich yet this received no publicity. The widely cited death threats to the playwright were mentioned in the national as well as local press but the death threats to the Sikh leaders and Councillors have also been ignored.

Thus the whole freedom of speech argument used by playwrights and media to defend the play ignores this basic fact that it was the context; i.e. the use of Sikh symbols NOT the speech or writing that caused most offence.
Many members of the media have jumped on the bandwagon blaming the Sikh community as being 'closed' or finding freedom of speech unacceptable. This is entirely wrong due to many reasons:
Firstly the Sikh community is very widely accepted as being the most law-abiding community in Great Britain. They are proportionally more economically active than any other community in generating income and taxes for the economy. Hundreds of thousands of Sikhs fought and died in the first and second World Wars for Great Britain against the Nazis for these freedoms such as freedom of speech. Unlike their English counterparts these Sikhs were always sent to the front line and fought for these freedoms for a country they never visited and a language they never spoke. Some journalists even had the cheek to suggest the protests were because the playwright was a woman but actually the Sikh leaders and protestors included a good mix of all ages, gender, etc. Britain only gave women equal rights in the last few decades yet Sikh women have enjoyed equal status granted by Sikh Gurus for hundreds of years; for example, fighting in armies alongside their male counterparts, something still today not granted in the British Army. The Sikh community upon entering Britain in the 1950s and 1960s were met with former critics of multicultural society such as Enoch Powell. Due to their appearance the Sikhs have remained the first to be ridiculed in comedies, dramas and other forms of media. Since then a multicultural society may have formed but media organisations have failed by consistent under-representation of the Sikh community in their bodies and thus have a total lack of awareness. In broadcasting coverage on the 9/11 attacks on the USA and the wars since the western media failed to distinguish between Sikhs and Muslims and thus resulted in many Sikhs being murdered in the USA and UK due to the ignorance in society exacerbated by the media. Also the media described the playwright and actors as being Sikh; a fact contested by the entire Sikh community at large as she does not follow any of the basic tenets of the religion, nor it's code of conduct. Those people in Society at large that are not ignorant of Sikhism understand nobody can be born a Sikh as it is a practised religion. If the media chooses to remain ignorant of Sikhism and describe the playwright and actors as Sikh then surely by the same notions the media must remain unbiased and apply this policy to all communities so that whenever it mentions any news story regarding anybody that has anything to do with Christianity, and other religions it should mention that religion. Thus many animal rights protestors who may be children of devout Christians should be described in every broadcasted news story as being Christian. Also the media were the first to push freedom of speech aside by encouraging retailers to censor West Indian Rap music due to the sentiments against the Gay community. Thus the absurd ignorance, blatant racism, hypocrisy and inequitable news coverage shown by many media broadcasters is apparent.


Sep 16, 2004
Really great disscussion and I liked reading both view points about it
I would like say something after reading all this

1. Yes freedom of speech seems to be compromised but do you really think Gurpreet Bhatti is really a devout sikh with only aim of the play being reforming it ?

Well i think is big NO , She is professional atrist with personal ambitions at top of the list and dont think she cares much about sikhism

2 when in a western Media Most of the people still confuse sikhs with muslims and that show how much really they know about sikhs ( Just to mention Living in LEEDS UK I have have been mistaken as muslim more han once in pst six months) so such a audience you want to show what is wrong in sikhism when at forst place they know little about sikhism jsut like telling somebody in south india that sikhs are those people who were terrorist and they were the one who shot Indra Gandhi
I think you got the point actually to masses who really know little about afaith you are just starting with telling them what can be wrong with it . Is this the nice way to start and surely it shows how much BHATTI cares about sikhi

i will writie more soon...



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