Rushdie Slams Withdrawn PEN Panelists

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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 The novelists Peter Carey, Michael Ondaatje, Francine Prose, Teju Cole, Rachel Kushner, and Taiye Selasi have withdrawn as hosts of the ceremony, claiming the French magazine promotes hate speech and racism.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's fiction has appeared in 45th Parallel Magazine, Little Fiction, Vol 1. Brooklyn, Joyland Magazine, and elsewhere and nonfiction has appeared in Chicago Review of Books, The Negatives, Electric Literature, Fiction Advocate, and elsewhere. He is the Deputy Editor of The Rumpus, holds an MA in English from Rutgers University, tweets @IanMacAllen and is online at IanMacAllen.com. More from this author →