Borderline

Hanif Kureishi reflects on how his play, Borderline, which was staged 25 years ago, might still be relevant for Asians in Britain. The play dealt with riots, fascism, and feminism, all of which are still around, though the context for them has changed.

During the 10 years between the Southall riots and the demonstration against The Satanic Verses, the community had become politicised by radical Islam, something that had been developing throughout the Muslim world since decolonisation. This version of Islam imposed an identity and solidarity on a besieged community. It came to mean rebellion, purity, integrity. But it was also a trap. Once this ideology had been adopted – and political conversations could only take place within its terms – it entailed numerous constraints, locking the community in, as well as divorcing it from possible sources of creativity: dissidence, criticism, sexuality. Its authoritarianism, stifling to those within, and appearing fascistic to those without, rejected the very liberalism the community required in order to flourish in the modern world. It was tragic: what had protected the community from racism and disintegration came to tyrannise it.

You can read the full essay here.

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