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Silencing Monica Ali

How dare a Bengali of East End write a book about her own immigrant culture and expect it not to be burned by Islamists and their multiculturalist fellow travelers? Nick Cohen's seen the film version of Brick Lane, which the … Read More

By / September 26, 2007

How dare a Bengali of East End write a book about her own immigrant culture and expect it not to be burned by Islamists and their multiculturalist fellow travelers? Nick Cohen's seen the film version of Brick Lane, which the simpering dauphin of the British monarchy refuses to:

I picked up the papers yesterday to find that the spineless Prince Charles had cancelled the Royal Film Performance of this sensitive, and in the end rather traditionalist story, for fear that the gala performance would attract protests. Policemen who leave children to drown in ponds show greater courage than the man who would be king. Even if there were ground to protest against this film, it should be defended to the hilt, but as it happens there are none.True, a group of self-appointed ‘community leaders’ stopped the crew filming in Brick Lane and threatened to burn Ali’s novel last summer. They claimed the film would show a Bengalis infested with lice. It doesn’t. That it would insult them. It doesn’t do that either. Their bluff was called during one demonstration, when a young Asian man stepped forward to ask if the protestors had actually read the book. The furious reaction suggested they hadn’t. As so often, the intelligentsia behaved worst of all. Presented with the sight of old men demanding the censorship of the ideas of a young woman, the former feminist Germaine Greer came out on the side of the book burners. She explained that Monica Ali was deeply suspect because she wrote in English and thus inflicted her sinful British sensibility on the hapless Bengalis of the East End. Salman Rushdie, who has been at the sharp end of lethal attempts to silence novelists, accurately accused her of a kind of racism. ‘To suit Greer, the British-Bangladeshi Ali is denied her heritage and belittled for her Britishness,’ he wrote. ‘While her British-Bangladeshi critics are denied that same Britishness, which most of them would certainly insist was theirs by right.’

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