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 theatre company of launching “a campaign to promote free sex and LGBT”.
Despite police authorities having officially confirmed that the show did not contain any pornography or obscene scenes, performances for the following nights were cancelled on the advice of police authorities.
Penangpac cited “misconceptions” as the reason for cancellation of the shows. The opening night performance hosted a full house of 120 people, including police officers who were present to monitor. The production companies had even taken the precaution to limit admission to audiences aged 16 and above.
The cancellation of the show not only affects the 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.
The numerous negative multifaceted effects of the performance cancellation should remind us 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].
To jump to conclusions sbout the production simply on the basis of its title was therefore 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.
That the performance was sold out for its opening night and three other nights clearly indicates a positive reception for the show and public interest in the conversations and dialogues about the social issues portrayed in the play.
We call for the play to be reinstated for show at Penangpac and for the production team to be accorded due protection throughout and post-production. The police authorities and the state government must act in the public’s best interest and must not submit to baseless accusations by Muslim groups in the state.