Lost in Translation, Lost in Context

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PEN America generated quite a controversy when it decided to honor French satirical paper Charlie Hebdo. Six authors called for a boycott of the gala and circulated a petition slamming the organization. Other authors, like Salman Rushdie, criticized the critics. Despite all the back-and-forth, the one perspective that seemed missing from the discussion was that of French Muslims. Now Vice has gone ahead and asked some. While the opinions of a few may be anecdotal, their answers might surprise some critics of PEN America, like French-born author Mabrouch Rachedi:

Cabu, Wolinski, and Charb were very famous cartoonists; I’d grown up with them. The act of calling them racists is a complete misread of what these caricaturists stood for in France. They were, in every struggle, against the [far right-wing party] National Front.


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 IanMacAllen.com. More from this author →