Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Community Action

"Residents and traders in Brick Lane, east London, have threatened protests and street blockades to prevent filming of a screen adaptation of a book by bestselling novelist Monica Ali which they claim is "racist and insulting" toward the Bangladeshi community. The Booker- shortlisted novel, Brick Lane, tells the story of Nazneen, a Bangladeshi woman who is sent to London for an arranged marriage, but later cheats on her husband with a radical young Muslim."

Quite right, too. After all, whose streets are they ? It's not as if they were a public space, open to just anybody.

Abdus Salique, chair of Brick Lane Traders' Association, who is coordinating the campaign from his sweetshop, said he feared the book would enrage younger members of the community. "Young people are getting very involved with this campaign. We had more than 100 people attend yesterday's meeting. They are willing to blockade the area and guard our streets."

"Of course, they will not do anything unless we tell them to, but I warn you they are not as peaceful as me"

If you like irony it's entertaining to see yet again the huge cultural gap between the literary Guardianista (who loved "Brick Lane") and the average Ibrahim in the street. Note also the 'our streets', a refrain much beloved of the left, going back through the anti-fascist years to Cable Street.

Mr Salique seems to know who he means by 'our'. Guardianistas aren't included.

UPDATE - see also this post on community action.


Anonymous said...

Interesting post -- I was talking to a Bengali guy in Brick Lane when it was about to be designated 'Bangla Town' and given the whole Chinatown-type schmeer. He - and lots of others - didn't agree with this notion because 1) they didn't want to be fixed to this place which, after all, is always being positioned as a transit zone (you know the routine Time Out-ese 'wave after wave of immigration... yada yah') and more importantly 2) that many of the landlords in the area were still of Jewish from that era of immigration so the Bengalis didn't even own properties there. It was then - ten years ago - being suggested that Brick Lane was going to become Somalian, God help us all. So how come the Lane has now, in contra-indication to history, become a defensive territory, a kind of Banglastan?

Ross said...

Should we start referring to "the Mainly Bengali Brick Lane" in the style of a certain other road whose residents think they ought to be allowed to control access.

Anonymous said...

"younger members of the community becoming enraged". Ho hum, it must be a weekday.

DJ said...

Yep, I can just see the younger residents being enraged by an ungenorous representation in a book, much like the notorious Glasgow Opera Riots of 1965.

Hey, if they want us to take into account that they'll riot at the drop of a hat, could they at least stop yammering about the fact now one will employ them ?

Mercurius Aulicus said...

"Quite right, too. After all, whose streets are they ? It's not as if they were a public space, open to just anybody"

Tell the Ulstermen how the streets are open to everybody.

Anonymous said...

"Brick Lane"'s a rotten book anyway, in my obviously worthwhile opinion. I prefer Tarquin Hall's "Salaam Brick Lane" - middle class man spends a year in a Brick Lane slum, and, as you'd expect, gets on fine with everyone except for members of the white working class..