Sisters in Islam (SIS) stands in solidarity with Penangpac, Big Nose Productions and playwright, Fa Abdul, on the staging of their two-hour comedy play, Love in Georgetown City.
Based on simply the performance poster, Muslim groups had lodged police reports against the play claiming that it was screening “pornographic films that promoted free sex and LGBT lifestyle.” Jaringan Muslimin Pulau Pinang held a protest at Penangpac on the performance’s opening night accusing the theater company of launching “a campaign to promote free sex and LGBT.”
Despite the fact that the police authorities have officially confirmed that the show does not contain any pornography or obscene scenes, performances for the following nights were cancelled on advice by the police authorities.
Penangpac cited “misconceptions” as the reason for the cancellation of the shows. The opening night performance hosted a full house of 120 paying audience and included police officers who were present to monitor. The production companies had even taken the precaution to limit admission to audiences ages 16 and above only.
Cancellation of the show not only affects expected income to be earned through the performance, but also disregards the months of effort put into the show by the production team, and reflects poorly on freedom of expression in the state.
It is because of the numerous negative multifaceted effects of the performance cancellation, that Islam demands that we fairly investigate an issue before acting harshly on it. This is evident from Surah Hujurat, verse 6: “O you who have believed, if there comes to you a person with information, investigate, lest you harm a people out of ignorance and become, over what you have done, regretful.” [49:6]. Therefore, to jump into conclusions simply on the basis of its title is unethical.
We think that it is unfair that the show remains cancelled and that the production companies remain fearful of brash threats of aggression from Muslim groups in the state. The fact that the performance was sold out for its opening night and three other nights clearly indicates a welcoming reception for the show and public interest for conversations and dialogues for the social issues portrayed by the play.
We call for the play to be reinstated for a show at Penangpac and for the production team be accorded due protection throughout and post-production. The police authorities and state government must act in the public’s best interest, and must not submit to baseless accusations by Muslim groups in the state.
Sisters in Islam
19 February 2019