American presidential hopeful Donald Trump might just find himself banned from the United Kingdom, over his own statement to ban Muslims from entering the United States. He has also accused the British police of being scared of entering radicalised areas. This is, of course, not the first time that this kind of debate has echoed in the UK, as others who have made similar statements in the past, such as Geert Wilders (the Dutch politician who called the Quran a “fascist” book) have been officially “excluded”. But it will be difficult for the government to actually “ban” Mr Trump perhaps, even though there might be a House of Commons debate over the issue.
More than 300,000 have now signed an online petition requesting snapping of ties with the billionaire-turned-politician. Once a petition crosses the 100,000 mark, it has to be considered for a House of Commons debate and that might well take place.
Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland and the leader of the Scottish National Party, has moved swiftly and Mr Trump is no longer a business ambassador for Scotland, where he has invested more than one billion pound in golf courses. Could this be the end of Mr Trump’s business and political connections with the UK?
While Mr Trump is being denounced as “Hitler” by some among the Muslim community, there is concern that his views might be gaining traction. This “intolerance” debate in the UK and US is taking place openly and — unlike in India where a deliberate attempt is being made to link the government with every extremist statement — it is understood that certain elements within society and politics need to be restrained even as a discussion is required on why Islamophobia is spreading. This needs to be carefully calibrated of course, because the threat from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria still exists. Meanwhile, the flow of refugees continues unabated.
I was asked to participate in a TV debate on whether an advertisement featuring the Lord’s Prayer should be shown in cinema halls, just before Star Wars: The Force Awakens. This 60 second ad has been made by the Church of England. Many felt that in a multi-cultural country no single religion should be promoted, especially in a non-religious space like a film auditorium. This could also be dangerous, because how will one prevent other religions from demanding the same?
Now, it seems the CoE is up in arms because a “Hindu” film is being screened before The Good Dinosaur in some cinema halls. Created by Sanjay Patel, an animator at Pixar, Sanjay’s Super Team is a real story from Patel’s childhood. It is about his father and features various Hindu gods, including Krishna and Hanuman, as animated superheroes. The film has been agitating minds that feel it cannot be correct to show a so-called “Hindu” film, while disallowing the Lord’s Prayer advertisement, saying it might offend audiences.
Interestingly, both films seem to be targeting youngsters and families. The only defence for Sanjay’s Super Team appears to be that it is a cartoon feature, not an advertisement, and was created by the same studio to be shown alongside The Good Dinosaur.
Ok, so it promises to be a White Christmas and snow is already falling in parts of the UK. It will be a good time to curl up on the sofa and watch chilling whodunits, with mulled wine in one hand and Christmas cake in the other. But can we survive the long evenings whilst viewing adaptations of well-known classics such as Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None? As we all know, the Grande Dame of crime writing was known for her squeaky clean prose and almost schoolgirlish adherence to keeping x-rated violence off the page. Recently, when I re-read her, I was reminded of more innocent days in crime writing, with oblique hints at darker mysteries. But the latest BBC TV adaptation has been apparently updated for 2015 and features not just blood, but sex, violence and cocaine.
None of this, of course, was in the original book, but the producers of the three-part show feel all of this is essential to appeal to a younger audience. It seems everyone is targeting the young. If it’s not religion, it’s violence! (But on a more happily murderous note let me add that our Crime Writers Festival in Delhi, in January 2016, will have a whole session by Kathryn Harkup, author and scientist, discussing some of the poisons used by Christie to bump off her main characters).