The Sikh campaigners sat down on the floor and began to shout

News from Wolverhampton:

Hundreds of people had to be evacuated from Cineworld Wolverhampton after 50 protestors turned up and staged a sit-in over the screening of a controversial film.

Police had to be called and the cinema cleared and closed after the protestors surged through the main entrance and headed for the screen showing Bollywood blockbuster, Nanak Shah Fakir.

Once inside, the Sikh campaigners sat down on the floor and began to shout, refusing to move until cinema bosses met their demands and stopped the screening.

Well that’s that then. We can’t have anything if religious protesters decide they don’t want us to have it. All they have to go is sit down and shout, and that will be the end of whatever it was we were having.

Why the hell didn’t the “cinema bosses” call the police instead of doing what the lawbreaking trespassing extortionists demanded?

Nanak Shah Fakir, which is directed by Sartaj Singh Pannu and narrated by Arif Zakaria, has been mired in controversy since its release last week.

It stems from a depiction of the Guru and other religious figures in human form, which is considered to be a blasphemous violation of religious doctrine by many Sikhs.

Fine; they don’t have to look at it; they don’t get to shut it down for everyone.

It has been banned in many parts of India and attracted mass protests, while some UK cinemas have refused to show it through fear of offending religious sentiments.

Ban all the things. Ban Behzti, ban Wendy Doniger’s books, ban Taslima Nasreen’s books, ban Nanak Shah Fakir. Ban ban Caliban.

Cineworld said it has no plans to show the film in future following the incident. Posters advertising the film have since been removed from the cinema’s walls.

How absolutely cowardly and abject.

One man, who asked not to be named, said he was among dozens of customers asked to leave the multiplex when the commotion ensued.

He said: “It was extremely intimidating. For a group of people to be able to get a film stopped and then banned is just ridiculous.

“It’s an attack on freedom of speech. The atmosphere was quite aggressive in there and it’s not what you expect to face when you go and watch a film.”

Well quite! And it’s pretty damn mind-boggling that the cinema is giving in to the extortionists instead of pressing criminal charges against them.

A theater employee said:

“We apologised and offered those customers affected a full refund. The police were called to the cinema and we are currently working closely with them to investigate.

“We have taken the decision to cancel screenings of Nanak Shah Fakir because we want our customers to enjoy visiting our cinemas and experience a wide range of films without disruption from others.”

The way to do that is to refuse to let the extortionists have their way. It’s absolutely not to do what they demand.


  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    … a depiction of the Guru and other religious figures in human form…

    I had no idea that Sikhism was founded by cats, squids, &/or other entities for whom depiction as mere humans would count as denigration.

  2. Golgafrinchan Captain says

    I really don’t understand how people think giving in to the demands of extortionists, blackmailers, terrorists, etc. will make them go away. All it does is reinforce the behaviour.

    Sikhism had always seemed to me like one of the more live-and-let-live religions. I do remember a kerfuffle many years ago about Canadian Sikh children being told they weren’t allowed to bring their Kirpans (ceremonial daggers which are a symbol of justice and must be worn at all times) to public school, but I recall some compromise about keeping a tiny replica in their turban. Googling…

    Never mind. It looks like, in 2006, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the right of Sikhs to wear a Kirpan to school, as long as it is worn under clothes and sewn into a sheath. Sikhs say that its religious importance means that it would not be used as a weapon, although there have been several (over many years) instances of people being stabbed with them. Granted, I’d still feel safer in a stadium full of Kirpan-wearing Sikhs than I would in an American grocery store, where I might get shot by someone’s toddler.

    There was also a fight about Sikh Mounties (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) being allowed to wear turbans, but they weren’t demanding that anyone else change their behaviour. Even though it deviates from the standard recognizable Mountie uniform, I have no objections to this. There are also plenty of problems that come from the “I’m not an individual, I’m the uniform” mentality.

    When I was googling, I looked on and found something rather amusing to me:

    Sikhism preaches a message of Devotion and remembrance of God at all times, truthful living, equality of mankind* and denounces superstitions and blind rituals.

    How exactly does one denounce superstition while being Devoted to God? And how to you denounce blind rituals while having mandatory turbans and daggers and a prohibition against cutting your hair?

    *seeing the word “mankind”, I decided to do a bit more research on their views on gender equality. From what I read, the Sikh teachings take equality pretty seriously but they often take a backseat to the local culture; especially in places like India.

  3. says

    Ive been to a few sikh houses and the odd temple and they are frikken covered in pictures of the Gurus.

    Ok, they aren’t what you’d call “human representations” with their rosy red cheeks and sparkly eyes, most manga is more realistic, but still.

    Is this creeping fatwa envy?

  4. moarscienceplz says

    OTOH, at least the Sikh protesters didn’t kill anybody, so that’s some good news.

  5. johnthedrunkard says

    Actually handling religious extortion is going to involve expense and risk. Will a phalanx of riot police have to protect every showing? Will arresting, prosecuting, and perhaps deporting the ‘offended,’ be realistically possible?

    At some level, resolute public solidarity CAN limit the power of ‘sincere’ believers. Fred Phelps’ Family Band has been subject to vigorous counter-demonstrations for some years now. But they can still disrupt and harass without being shut down.

  6. says

    This made it onto the radio 4 news this morning, who obviously needed diametrically opposed viewpoints because nuance in news is last millennium.

    A community leader argued that although he hadn’t seen the film, someone much more knowledgeable and religious had seen it for him and said it was a bad thing.

    Sonny Hundal said that he/we should be allowed to make his/our own minds up.

    It was the Life of Brian debate without the wit.

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