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Artistic Licence, Free Speech and Religious Sensibilities in a Multicultural Society

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Chapter Summary

This chapter analyses the circumstances surrounding the Behzti affair of December 2004, and seeking clues as to how to interpret a confrontation between the incompatible values of artistic licence and religious sensitivity. It presents two sets of views about the affair: those of Sikh elders, who stressed the play's offence, and "muscular liberals", who stressed the rights of free speech. The chapter then locates Behzti in the context of British ulticulturalism, investigating the role of what are called 'faith communities' in contemporary society and government policy, and assesses the place of law in these conflicts of secular and religious value through an examination of the arguments surrounding the UK's Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006. Finally, it identifies certain similarities and differences between Behzti and other episodes, before concluding with a discussion of a possible convergence of views on the regulation of expressions of opinion about the culture.

Keywords: Artistic Licence; Behzti affair; British ulticulturalism; Free Speech; Multicultural Society; muscular liberals; Religious Sensibilities



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