Christiane Amanpour in a public Facebook post. It’s a letter she sent to PEN.
I am sure I was among many people who were puzzled and dismayed by the 6 PEN writers who have pulled out of next week’s Gala because of the award going to Charlie Hebdo. I am very glad to know that American PEN is standing up for what’s right by going ahead with the award, and as such I am glad I am still able to make available my video-taped contribution to the Gala, on behalf of one of our jailed colleagues, Khadija Ismayilova of Azarbaijan.
Much has been already written disdaining the action and motives of the PEN 6. I can only imagine these writers were wholly unacquainted with the precise nature of Charlie Hebdo’s satire and cartoons. So I’d like to send you this little primer in the hope you will forward to them all:
First as the PEN 6 will see from this article in Le Monde, Charlie Hebdo was NOT obsessed by Islam, was not deliberately inciting hatred of one religion, and was most certainly not aiming its satire at France’s large and beleaguered Moslem minority. The graph shows that of 523 copies of the magazine between 2005 and 2015, religion took up 38 of the covers. Of those, Islam 7, Christianity 21, and multiple religions took up 10.
In addition, while some of the PEN 6 complain Charlie Hebdo targets or offends French moslems, a precise examination of their satire shows they are actually targeting the absurdity, violence, misogyny, hatred and intolerance of global Islamic extremism. You can like or dislike what Charlie Hebdo does, find it funny or not, but to suggest that somehow they were inciting hatred and violence and ….not so subtle subtext…”oh well, the cartoonists were asking for it then”, is categorically wrongheaded, churlish and morally repugnant.