145 Authors Protest ‘Freedom of Expression’ Award to Charlie Hebdo as Islamophobic

The PEN award to the survivors of the Charlie Hebdo massacre has drawn some very distinguished fire.

On April 26, 2015, six PEN “table hosts,” all highly regarded writers, publicly protested PEN’s decision to give an award for “Freedom of Expression Courage” to these courageous survivors. This award, to be given on May 3rd, is separate from the literary prizes.

By April 30th, the six (Peter Carey, Teju Cole, Rachel Kushner, Michael Ondaatje, Francine Prose, and Taiye Selasi) were joined by one hundred and thirty nine authors who signed a petition of protest. In all, this represents only 4% of their membership.

Salman Rushdie, a writer who knows what it is to pay the price for having criticized Islam and is also a former President of PEN had this to say: They are “six authors in search of character.” He is right. They do not know how to stand up to the false charge of “Islamophobia.”

Thus, one hundred and forty five authors have decided to shame PEN—publicly, and at the last minute—in order to make an “anti-Islamophobic” political statement which renders every critic of Islamic gender and religious apartheid, and every critic of Islamic terrorism, that much more vulnerable.

One of the six protesting table hosts, novelist Francine Prose, has written in The Guardian:

The ‘narrative’ of the Charlie Hebdo murders—white Europeans killed in their offices by Muslim extremists—is one that feeds neatly into the cultural prejudices that have allowed our government to make so many disastrous mistakes in the Middle East. The First Amendment guarantees the right of the Neo-Nazis to march in Skokie, Illinois but we don’t give them an award.

But she is wrong about Charlie Hebdo’s alleged “Islamophobia.” According to two French sociologists, a review of “523 covers of Hebdo over 10 years…found that 485 dealt with politics, economics and so forth. A total of 38 involved religion; of those, Christianity was the exclusive subject of 21, and Islam of seven”…

  • How Can Jews Ignore Jewish Suffering?

    “…how is it comprehensible that the protest letter about Charlie Hebdo’s award was signed by noted Jewish authors like Deborah Eisenberg, Sarah Schulman, and Francine Prose among others? Why didn’t they demand inclusive language or refuse to sign? What did they have to lose? Isn’t leaving Jews out of their protest profoundly hypocritical? Why doesn’t Jewish suffering in France matter to them and to the other signers of the letter?

    I don’t belong to PEN — but if I did, I’d be ashamed to sign a letter that whitewashed the plight of French Jews.”


  • Martin B

    Seventy or eighty years ago these 145 writers would have been eager to crawl up Stalin’s ass. Some things never change, and one of those things is the fondness of intellectuals for murderous tyranny.

    • Justin St.Denis

      As a lifelong student of literature, I have indeed noticed that. I also notice which authors are no longer available ANYWHERE despite public demand for their work. Rather sinister, I have long thought. This was brought to my attention by a very elderly and well known costume designer for film, opera and the stage who is a dear friend of my wife. We enjoyed many discussions and debates about this issue over the years. Sadly, he passed away last year.

    • David Murrell

      Or crawl up Hitler’s ass, during the late 1020s and early 1940s.

  • ontario john

    The Toronto Star today has lots of letters to the editor denouncing the award.

    • Justin St.Denis

      Probably LOOKS that way because those are the letters they choose to publish. I never come away from the Toronto Star with anything whatsoever. It is by far the worst of all MSM broadsheets that I have ever had to deal with. Their “journalists” have been a joke for decades. The Toronto Star is just an environmental disaster, a disservice to forests and trees, and en embarrassment to the country.

  • Perhaps these writers could be boycotted?

    Let them experience what it’s like to be persona non grata.

  • eMan14

    They are hypocrites and moral cowards. Full fledge members of the “but” brigade. For freedom of speech… but…

  • Cowards or clowns – it’s hard to tell the difference

  • Hard Little Machine

    Peter Carey snubbed the Queen after winning the Commonwealth prize
    Teju Cole has only written 1 1/2 books
    Rachel Kuschner is kind of a non entity – a journalist really

    Michael Ondaatje – The English Patient, really?Francine Prose is quite prolific but I bet there’s no one you who’s ever read a word of her

    Taiye Selasi – one novel and it doesn’t even have a Wiki entry.

  • David Murrell

    To his credit, CBC commentator Rex Murphy condemned the Islamic-sympathetic PEN writers, and supported PEN’s move, today (Saturday May 2) during the CBC National broadcast at 6 pm (before the first hockey game).

    • El Martyachi
      • disqus_W6sfZCiOd8

        Good one.