Quillblog linked last month to the Guardian‘s coverage of the Brick Lane brouhaha, which consisted of east London borough Tower Hamlets residents putting up a stink about the production of a film based on Monica Ali’s Booker-nominated novel, which community groups blasted as “reinforcing ‘pro-racist, anti-social stereotypes’ and of containing ‘a most explicit, politically calculated violation of the human rights of the community.'”
After a recent march organized by the Campaign Against Monica Ali’s Film Brick Lane, the residents got their wish — sort of. A Guardian story reports that “Ruby Films decided to move shooting … out of London’s Tower Hamlets area last week,” although filming will continue elsewhere. Now the company, along with the police and the media, are being tsk-tsked by such lit luminaries as Salman Rushdie, Hari Kunzru and Lisa Appignanesi over their bending to the protestors’ will.
Rushdie “called for ‘all those who over-reacted in this matter,’ including the police, the film company … [and] the news media and to ‘admit their mistakes, so that the film can be completed, and we can move on,'” while Appignanesi thundered, “We cannot allow small numbers of ‘offended’ traditionalists the power of censorship.”
But it’s Kunzru who comes down the hardest, calling it a “‘sad story,’ saying it ‘does credit to nobody involved,’ neither the protesters who ‘are foolishly confirming the prejudices they fear others hold about them, nor the media, whose sensationalist and sloppy reporting have made a big issue out of a little one, not the film company whose failure to defend the work in any meaningful way has given an easy victory to the self-appointed censors.'”
PEN England puts in their two cents, too, urging the government to “honour the commitment to freedom of expression embodied in amendments to the 2006 Racial and Religious Hatred Act designed, saying ‘community censorship unopposed by the state is effectively state censorship by proxy.'”