Cries of Censorship After Play About Homegrown ISIS Jihadis Cancelled

Helen Maybanks/National Youth Theatre

A play about the “treatment of homegrown radicalisation” and British Islamic State (IS) recruits has been pulled a week before it’s debut. The director claims to have been “silenced” and the left-wing press has made allegations of censorship.

A petition has been signed by nearly 200 people calling for it to be reinstated. The playwright says the cancellation was due to “some extraordinary external pressure.”

The production was put on by the National Youth Theater (NYT) and is said to be inspired by the story of the three so-called jihadi bride schoolgirls from Bethnal  Green, who left to join IS in March.

The play had a cast of 112 people aged between 15 and 25, who were mostly from ethnic minorities, and was originally due to be performed in a Bethnal  Green School just over a mile from where the jihadi bride girls grew up. However, it was moved to UCL academy in Swiss Cottage after concerns from Tower Hamlets council that it might be “insensitive.”

Director Nadia Latif claims the play, called ‘Homegrown,’ was “a kaleidoscopic exploration of the treatment of homegrown radicalisation and to explore the breadth of opinion that is out there, and that the young people find themselves subject to.”

Therefore, “to cancel it,” she said to The Guardian, “is to undermine that entirely – what message does that send these young people about the environment of fear and politics we live in?”

She continued: “There was no warning. We got an email on Thursday night saying the show was cancelled, rehearsals are done, and the cast were told on Friday morning.”

The playwright, Omar El-Khairy, said: “Voices have been silenced here, there is no doubts about that and I just feel like in order to make the decision to cancel it, something very extreme must have been happened.”

Adding: “In a production meeting we were asked by NYT and stage management that the police wanted to look at the script, though we don’t know where that came from or who led that conversation.”

A statement from NYT read: “The production of Homegrown will no longer go ahead. After some consideration, we have come to the conclusion that we cannot be sufficiently sure of meeting all of our aims to the standards we set and which our members and audiences have come to expect.”


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