English PEN deplores the statement of Iranian cleric Ayatollah Hassan Sane’i of the 15 Khordad Foundation, which constitutes a new threat to the life of Salman Rushdie.
Jo Glanville, director of English PEN, said: ‘This is a cynical attempt to exploit the violence of the past week. It seeks to incite murder, sow division and further escalate an international controversy.
We support the liberty of writers everywhere to explore and question ideas, including the discussion of religion, without facing any risk to their own life or to the lives of those who publish or translate their work.’
Writers and members of PEN expressed their support today for Salman Rushdie:
Lisa Appignanesi: ‘As it was in 1989, the banner of “blasphemy” masks blatant bids for power. Yet again a novelist is being used by politicians in their political machinations. Rushdie needs vocal support from anyone who believes in the good that free expression and unhindered imagination bring to our societies. The film that has caused this round of unrest is an insult to everyone’s intelligence, but the means of combatting that is more intelligence, not threats of reinstated fatwas and killings.’
Hanif Kureishi: ‘Through his extraordinary books and bravery in the face of intolerance, Salman Rushdie has shown the world that literature and free speech can never be taken for granted. Authors must be free to ask challenging questions and speak truth to power. It is imperative that we defend Rushdie’s right to free expression without fear, for his freedom is the freedom of all writers, everywhere.’
Fay Weldon: ‘Twenty years ago the fatwa extended to publishers, printers, critics, translators, and the threat of violence was a fairly successful attempt to silence writers, Salman today, tomorrow the rest of us. A united front of defiance is essential. Appeasement is no answer, and why we drifted into the trouble we are in today.’
Salman Rushdie received the 2010 Golden PEN award from the board of English PEN. You can watch his acceptance speech online.
Add your voice to the messages of support for Salman Rushdie, by leaving a message in the comments box below.