Rushdie Slams Withdrawn PEN Panelists


PEN America announced on Sunday their intention to honor Charlie Hebdo’s surviving staff with the Freedom of Expression Courage award at their May 5 Gala. The novelists Peter Carey, Michael Ondaatje, Francine Prose, Teju Cole, Rachel Kushner, and Taiye Selasi have withdrawn as hosts of the ceremony, claiming the French magazine promotes hate speech and racism. Salman Rushdie, a former PEN president, has now criticized the authors for their withdrawal, saying:

“If PEN as a free speech organization can’t defend and celebrate people who have been murdered for drawing pictures, then frankly the organization is not worth the name. What I would say to both Peter and Michael and the others is, I hope nobody ever comes after them.”

Ian MacAllen is the author of Red Sauce: How Italian Food Became American (Rowman & Littlefield, April 2022). His writing has appeared in Chicago Review of Books, Southern Review of Books, The Offing, 45th Parallel Magazine, Little Fiction, Vol 1. Brooklyn, and elsewhere. He tweets @IanMacAllen and is online at More from this author →