Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Salman Rushdie slams critics of PEN’s Charlie Hebdo tribute

Salman Rushdie, who spent years in hiding after a fatwa was issued against him, has spoken out strongly against the decision by six of his fellow authors to withdraw from the PEN annual gala in New York over the organisation’s decision to honour Charlie Hebdo with its freedom of expression courage award.

“The award will be given. PEN is holding firm. Just 6 pussies. Six Authors in Search of a bit of Character,” Rushdie wrote on Twitter on 27 April, having the day before told the New York Times that the authors – who include Peter Carey, Michael Ondaatje and Francine Prose – were “horribly wrong”
He compared the controversy to PEN’s inclusion of Pussy Riot at last year’s gala, saying that the Russian activists’ “content is in many instances juvenile, and many people had felt that remove large parts of your clothing in an Orthodox church was offensive, but in standing up to the Putin regime they did something worth admiration.

“If we only endorsed freedom of speech for people whose speech we liked that would be a very limited notion of freedom of speech. It’s a courage award, not a content award.”

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