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PEN Condemns Murders of Charlie Hebdo Journalists

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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

Woody Allen
John Ashbery
Margaret Atwood
Carl Bernstein
T.C. Boyle
Peter Carey
Michael Chabon
Ron Chernow
J.M. Coetzee
Teju Cole
Martha Cooley
Lydia Davis
Junot Diaz
E.L. Doctorow
Jennifer Egan
Louise Erdrich
Richard Ford
Neil Gaiman
William Gass
Masha Gessen
Malcolm Gladwell
Barbara Goldsmith
Daniel Handler
Tom Healy
Joanne Leedom-Ackerman
Paul Karasik
Garrison Keillor
Sam Lipsyte
D.T. Max
Colum McCann
Jay McInerney
Paul Muldoon
John Oakes
Joyce Carol Oates
Orhan Pamuk
Francine Prose
Zia Haider Rahman
Theresa Rebeck
Marilynne Robinson
Salman Rushdie
James Salter
George Saunders
Said Sayrafiezadeh
Simon Schama
Raja Shehadeh
David Simon
Jane Smiley
Andrew Solomon
Art Spiegelman
Rob Spillman
Janne Teller
Fred Tomaselli
Anne Tyler
Ayelet Waldman
Lawrence Weiner
G. Willow Wilson
Lauren Wolchik
Tobias Wolff