The attack this morning on the office of Charlie Hebdo was an attempt to intimidate writers worldwide and inhibit the free flow of ideas, a group of distinguished writers said in a statement released with PEN American Center today. At least a dozen writers, editors, and cartoonists were killed in the ambush on the Paris news magazine known for satirizing Islam.
Acclaimed writers and PEN members around the world, including Woody Allen, Jennifer Egan, Louise Erdrich, Neil Gaiman, Orhan Pamuk, Salman Rushdie, Art Spiegelman, and others, joined PEN in condemning the violence and calling for renewed efforts to protect “those working on the front lines of free expression”:
“As writers, editors and artists we stand together today in solidarity and outrage at the murder of our colleagues at Charlie Hebdo in Paris. This attack on cartoonists, writers and editors is an attack on free expression worldwide. It is an attempt to terrorize and intimidate all of us in order to inhibit the free flow of ideas.
Peaceful coexistence within diverse communities requires a climate of tolerance and an open exchange of views that includes criticism, humor, and hyperbole. The right to satirize, to question, to expose, to mock, even when offensive to some, is a bulwark of a free society. Today’s bloody retribution for the drawing and publishing of cartoons represents a terrifying challenge to these values of tolerance.
We call upon all governments, religious leaders and civil society institutions to join us in condemnation of this vicious attack. We ask them to insist that however offensive speech may be to some, it is never a justification for violence.
We call upon responsible authorities and institutions to redouble their efforts to protect those working on the front lines of free expression worldwide who put themselves at personal risk to voice controversial viewpoints. Today’s effort to silence criticism by murdering the artists and writers who voice it must be met with a far wider movement to defend the right to dissent, which forms the spine of free expression.”
-Peter Godwin, President, PEN American Center
Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director, PEN American Center
Zia Haider Rahman
-Sarah Edkins, PEN America