Howard Brenton: Iranian Nights

(900 words)
  • Steve Barfield (University of Human Development, Suleymanyia, Iraqi Kurdistan)

Iranian Nights (Royal Court, 1989), written by Howard Brenton in collaboration with Tariq Ali, was a short and timely response to the notorious fatwa edict issued against Salman Rushdie, for writing The Satanic Verses, by Iran’s spiritual leader, Ayatolla Khomeini. Written in five days, and referring in its title to the One Thousand and One Nights, the play defended Rushdie in the name of free speech, while explaining the left’s perspective on the growth of Islamic fundamentalism in the contexts of both racism against immigrants to Britain and as a relatively recent, right-wing political development in Islamic countries. It attracted a reasonable (and unusual) number of Muslim audience members to t…

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Barfield, Steve. "Iranian Nights". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 16 March 2005
[, accessed 29 November 2015.]