Charlie Hebdo receives disputed PEN award in New York
6 May 2015
From the section US & Canada
The French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo has received a controversial freedom of speech award at the PEN Literary Gala in New York on Tuesday.
Six prominent authors boycotted the event, saying it celebrated the magazine’s “cultural intolerance”.
Islamists stormed the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris in January after the magazine published drawings of the Prophet Muhammad.
On Sunday, two gunmen were killed at a draw-the-Prophet competition in Dallas.
PEN president Andrew Solomon said: “The defence of people murdered for their exercise of free speech is at the heart of what PEN stands for.
“Charlie Hebdo’s current staff have persisted, and tonight’s award reflects their refusal to accept the curtailment of lawful speech through violence.”
Charlie Hebdo’s editor in chief, Gerard Biard and Jean-Baptiste Thoret, a film critic who arrived late for work on the day of the attack, were at the gala to accept the award.
Charlie Hebdo’s editor in chief Gerard Biard (L) and Jean-Baptiste Thoret accepted the award
Mr Thoret has rejected any comparison between the Paris and Dallas attacks.
“To be honest, I can imagine the kind of comparison you can make between the Charlie Hebdo attack of January 7 and this event, but there is nothing. There is no comparison, absolutely no comparison,” he told PBS’s Charlie Rose.
The film critic added that the attack in Texas was part on an “anti-Islamic movement” in the US.
The decision to award the magazine the Freedom of Expression Courage Award to Charlie Hebdo caused six high-profile authors to withdraw, including The English Patient writer Michael Ondaatje.
They said PEN – known for defending imprisoned writers – was stepping beyond its traditional role.
Source:: BBC Entertainment