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«« Previous page · DRAW THE LINE HERE: CARTOONISTS RESPOND TO THE CHARLIE HEBDO KILLINGS · EGYPTIAN POET SHAIMAA EL-SABBAGH KILLED DURING PEACEFUL PROTEST IN CAIRO · DRAW THE LINE HERE · NEXUS LEZING GARRY KASPAROV · PERSMUSEUM EERT CHARLIE HEBDO MET EEN TENTOONSTELLING · JE SUIS CHARLIE · Straf voor kritische Saudische blogger Raif Badaw: Duizend zweepslagen en tien jaar cel. · PEN UK publishes new poetry anthology: MY VOICE · Zhimin Tang & Tom America: TIEN AN MEN – MANY PEOPLE WANTED TO BE THEM-SELVES · Amnesty International anthology of poems: GROWN MEN AREN’T SUPPOSED TO CRY · Can poetry change the world? · India: PEN protests withdrawal of best-selling book

»» there is more...



Draw the Line Here: Cartoonists respond to the Charlie Hebdo killings. Cartoons for the families of the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, and in support of free speech.

English PEN is delighted to announce the publication of Draw The Line Here, a collection of cartoons drawn in response to the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris in January 2015.

The book is a collaboration between the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation (PCO), Crowdshed, and English PEN. It features cartoons drawn by British artists in the days immediately after the attacks. The work of 66 cartoonists is featured, including Steve Bell, Dave Brown, Martin Rowson, Peter Brooke and Ralph Steadman.

hebdocharlie11Proceeds from the book will be split equally between the fund for the victims of the Charlie Hebdo murders, and English PEN’s Writers at Risk programme.

Production of the book was made possible by a crowd-funding campaign launched in February. Over 200 people pledged their support to the project, and will be receiving their copies of the book in the coming days.

Draw The Line Here includes a foreword by Libby Purves, patron of the PCO, who writes:
Some cartoons here are gentle, others savage; some merely encapsulate the bafflement and sadness of a world where mockery is met not with the proper response, a shrug, but with murder. Again and again the theme is of the fragility of the sceptical, laughing pencil: its simplicity and its splendour, the opposite of the vainglorious, meaningless squalor of the gun and the bomb.

Jo Glanville, director of English PEN, said:
We are extremely grateful to the PCO and to Crowdshed for choosing English PEN as a beneficiary of this project, and of course to all the cartoonists who have contributed to the book. By exercising their own right to freedom of expression, these artists are helping to defend the free speech of others.

The publication of this book could not be more timely. Sunday 3 May is World Press Freedom Day, the perfect time to stand in solidarity with Charlie Hebdo.

Draw The Line Here may be purchased online at:

Supporters to the Crowdfunding campaign will receive their copies in the coming days

Books cost UK £15.00 each. UK delivery is £2.00 and international delivery is £4.00.

# More information on website English PEN magazine



shaima_sabbagh12On 24th January 2015 Shaimaa el-Sabbagh, a poet and a member of the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, was marching to commemorate the hundreds of demonstrators that were killed during the Arab Spring uprising of 2011.
Shaimaa el-Sabbagh was shot in the back by riot police officers, while heading to Tahrir Square in Cairo to lay flowers there.
The Alliance Party said in a statement, that their only intention was to place flowers for of the fourth anniversary of the Jan. 25 revolution. Other demonstrators were also injured in the same demonstration.
Egyptian Government officials denied that the police had fired any shots.
At Sunday the funeral of the 31-year-old mother and poet, held in Alexandria, was attended by nearly 10,000 people.

shaima_sabbagh11I am the girl banned from love in the squares …
I stood in the middle of the street
and gathered in my hand the stars of the sky individually
And the sweat of the street vendors.
The voice of beggars
And the people who love God
as they damn this moment where the creatures of God approved
To crucifying Jesus naked in the crowded square
on the clock arms as it declared one at noon
I am the girl banned from saying no,
will never miss the dawn

Shaimaa al-Sabbagh
(From the poem: I’m the girl banned from attending the Christian religion classes, and Sunday mass. Translation by Maged Zaher)

# See Twitter Account Shaimaa el-Sabbagh

# Poems (in English) of Shaimaa el-Sabbagh on website: TIN HOUSE magazine

More in: - Archive Tombeau de la jeunesse, In Memoriam, REPRESSION OF WRITERS, JOURNALISTS & ARTISTS


JesuisCharlieBe part of the movement for peace and tolerance
Support the project: ‘Draw The Line Here’
Come together in support of Charlie Hebdo and freedom of expression

The tragic events in Paris last week have shaken many of us to the core, but rising from the ashes is a growing global movement in support of freedom of expression and religious tolerance.

To celebrate this and raise much needed funds for the families and victims of the Charlie Hebdo atrocities, the Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation has collaborated with English PEN and CrowdShed to create ‘Draw The Line Here’ (Tracer La Ligne Ici), a specially curated collection of cartoons produced in the days immediately following the Paris attacks.

drawthelinehereOnce production and publishing costs for Draw The Line Here have been covered, half of the proceeds from this crowdfund campaign will go to English PEN, a registered charity working to promote freedom of expression, and the other half will be donated to the fund for the families of the victims.

Be part of the movement for peace and tolerance

This symbol of the pen being mightier than the gun has inspired us all. Draw The Line Here has been set up to let us all contribute to the creation and publication of a book that celebrates the timeless art so brilliantly presented by Charlie Hebdo, and memorialise those who paid with their lives for what they believed in.

By supporting and funding this project you’ll be supporting and funding English PEN in their vital work to defend and promote freedom of expression around the world and lend much needed aid to the victims’ families.

# Website DRAW THE LINE HERE magazine



kasparov_lifeimitaiteschessOnze open democratische samenleving wordt bedreigd door nieuwe en oude gevaren. De dictatuur van Vladimir Poetin treedt de integriteit van Europa met voeten, terwijl terrorisme uit binnen- en buitenland ons voor grote problemen stelt. Het tijdperk van globalisering heeft geleid tot botsingen die de baten tenietdoen. Na de val van de Berlijnse muur dachten we dat het niet langer nodig was de individuele vrijheid te verdedigen of een agressieve buitenlandpolitiek te voeren. Recente ontwikkelingen hebben ons die illusie ontnomen. We moeten onze positie herzien in de wetenschap dat onze wereld nog altijd doordesemd is van kwade machten, die alleen maar zullen groeien wanneer we ons er niet tegen verzetten. Want samenlevingen die hun burgers niet kunnen beschermen, zullen niet lang open blijven.

14.00 uur Ontvangst met koffie en thee
14.30 uur Welkom Rob Riemen
14.40 uur Nexus-lezing door Garry Kasparov
15.30 uur Q&A
16.30 uur Receptie

Garry Kasparov (Rusland, 1963) werd op 22-jarige leeftijd de jongste schaakkampioen ooit en domineerde ruim twintig jaar de wereldranglijst. Met zijn aanhoudende strijd met Anatoli Karpov om de wereldtitel en zijn beroemde tweekamp met IBM supercomputer Deep Blue hield hij de wereld jarenlang in de ban van het schaakbord. Ook na de beëindiging van zijn schaakloopbaan bleef hij actief met The Kasparov Chess Foundation. Bovenal werd Kasparov razendsnel bekend als voorvechter van democratie en mensenrechten met zijn openlijke verzet tegen het beleid van Vladimir Poetin. Hij is president van het Verenigd Burgerfront, dat hij in 2005 oprichtte, en is medeoprichter van het Andere Rusland, een samenwerkingsverband dat oproept tot vrije en eerlijke verkiezingen. Zijn boek Waarom het leven op schaken lijkt (2007), over hoe schaken en besluitvorming parallellen vertonen, is in meer dan twintig talen vertaald.

NEXUS lezing Garry Kasparov:
Timeless Values in a Shifting World
21 maart 2015, 14:00 – 17:00
Aula Tilburg University
# Meer informatie op website nexus instituut magazine

More in: - Book Stories, Art & Literature News, Nexus Instituut, REPRESSION OF WRITERS, JOURNALISTS & ARTISTS



Amsterdam 11012015

Het Persmuseum eert het Franse satirische tijdschrift Charlie Hebdo vanaf vandaag met een expositie rond illustraties en illustratoren die werken op het scherpst van de snede van de persvrijheid.

In het Persmuseum in Amsterdam-Oost zullen vanaf zondag 11 januari exemplaren worden geëxposeerd van het weekblad dat deze week getroffen werd door een terreuraanslag waarbij tien medewerkers, een bewaker en een politieagent om het leven kwamen. Ook zijn andere spotprenten te zien die gemaakt zijn naar aanleiding van de aanslag.

Persmuseum directeur Niels Beugeling: “We hebben met man en macht gewerkt om deze expositie rond te krijgen. Die is een ode aan het getroffen blad en de tekenaars, maar vooral ook aan het onverwoestbare recht op vrijheid van meningsuiting.”

persmuseumcharlie04Niels Beugeling: “De aanslag in Parijs is een absolute ramp. Niet alleen voor het blad en de medewerkers, maar voor de satire en de vrijheid van de pers wereldwijd. Het blad, zonder foto’s maar met bijzondere tekeningen en reportages, dat zich zonder  voorbehoud tegen alles en iedereen keert, is in één klap beroofd van een aantal van zijn beste tekenaars en meest toegewijde medewerkers: Cabu, Wolinski, Charb, Honoré en Tignous. Iedereen is met stomheid geslagen, maar die stomheid zal, Charlie Hebdo indachtig, niet lang aanhouden.”

Het Persmuseum is de nationale bewaarplaats voor het journalistieke erfgoed. Het museum beheert een omvangrijke collectie kranten en tijdschriften vanaf 1600, een verzameling affiches en overige reclame-uitingen met betrekking tot de pers, een unieke collectie (originele) politieke tekeningen en persgrafiek, tal van archieven en foto’s rond journalisten en de persbedrijfstak, en een uitgebreide bibliotheek.

Het Persmuseum staat in Nederland pal voor het belang van het recht op informatie en van de persvrijheid. Het ziet het als zijn missie om, met zijn collectie als uitgangspunt, voor een breed publiek uitingen en uitingsvormen van de media en journalistiek te verzamelen, te bewaren en het belang ervan in alle facetten over het voetlicht te brengen.


Bij de aanslag van deze week kwamen onder cartoonisten Georges Wolinski, Jean Cabut, Philippe Honoré, Bernhard Verlhac en Stéphane Charbonnier om het leven.

Veteraan en mede-oprichter van het blad Georges Wolinksi (80), werkte al voor Hara-Kiri in de jaren ’60 en sinds 1970 voor Charlie Hebdo, maar ook voor het dagblad Libération, en voor Paris-Match en L’Écho des savanes.

Het eerste werk van Cabu (pseudoniem van Jean Cabut), verscheen in 1954 in een regionaal dagblad. De 76-jarige tekenaar en mede-oprichter van het blad, tekende in 2006 de profeet Mohammed voor de cover van Charlie Hebdo, als antwoord op de cartoonrellen in Denemarken.

Charb (pseudoniem van Stéphane Charbonnier, 47) was hoofdredacteur van het magazine. Hij was zowel tekenaar als journalist en had een vaste rubriek in het magazine: ‘Charb n’aime pas les gens’ (Charb houdt niet van de mensen).

Tignous (pseudoniem van Bernard Verlhac, 57) tekende zowel voor Charlie Hebdo, de Marianne en de Fluide Glacial. Hij ondertekende zijn werk altijd met Oom Bernard.

Philippe Honoré, 74, werkte net als Tignous sinds 1992 voor Charlie Hebdo. Zijn werk wordt gekenmerkt door een bijzondere grafische stijl die doet denken aan lino- of houtsneden.

Zeeburgerkade 10,
1019 HA Amsterdam
020 6928810
# Website persmuseum magazine





# Link website


Straf voor kritische Saudische blogger Raif Badaw: Duizend zweepslagen en tien jaar cel.

Amnesty01Kom in actie voor de vrijheid van Raif Badawi

Duizend zweepslagen en tien jaar cel. Dat is de straf die de Saudische Raif Badawi krijgt voor het schrijven van kritische blogs.

Begin mei 2014 werd de Saudische blogger Raif Badawi veroordeeld tot tien jaar cel, duizend zweepslagen (vijftig per week) en een boete van 1 miljoen rial (191 duizend euro) voor het ‘beledigen van de islam’. Op 1 september werd de straf in hoger beroep door het gerechtshof in Jeddah bevestigd. De eerste serie zweepslagen kan daardoor mogelijk al binnen enkele weken worden uitgevoerd. Amnesty International beschouwt Raif Badawi als een gewetensgevangene die alleen maar vastzit omdat hij als blogger op vreedzame wijze gebruikmaakte van zijn recht op vrije meningsuiting.

Raif Badawi (1984) is medeoprichter van een van de grootste online fora van Saudi-Arabië, Saudi Arabian Liberals. Dit is de werkelijke reden voor zijn veroordeling. De Saudische autoriteiten voeren een meedogenloze campagne om vreedzame activisten de mond te snoeren. Hierbij worden ernstige maatregelen, zoals zware gevangenisstraffen en lijfstraffen, niet geschuwd.

Kom in actie! Roep de Saudische autoriteiten op Raif Badawi onmiddellijk vrij te laten. Stuur je protestmail (zie link website Amnesty International) direct naar de Saudische ambassade in Nederland.

# Meer informatie website Amnesty International magazine

More in: Art & Literature News, MUSEUM OF PUBLIC PROTEST- photos, texts, videos, street poetry, REPRESSION OF WRITERS, JOURNALISTS & ARTISTS

PEN UK publishes new poetry anthology: MY VOICE



My Voice
Editor: Sarah Maguire
Translators: Various
Original language: Various
Published by: Bloodaxe Books, 2014

As this gloriously diverse, revelatory selection of translations from the Poetry Translation Centre’s first decade proves, nothing has invigorated poetry in English more than translation.

Here you will find 111 brilliant poems translated from 23 different languages (ranging from Arabic to Zapotec: all the original scripts are included) by 45 of the world’s leading poets. Arranged on a journey from exile to ecstasy, these powerful poems have been co-translated by some of the UK’s best-loved poets including Jo Shapcott, Sean O’Brien, Lavinia Greenlaw, W N Herbert, Mimi Khalvati and Nick Laird.

Founded by Sarah Maguire, the Poetry Translation Centre aims to transform English verse through engaging with the rich poetic traditions of the UK’s recent immigrant communities for whom poetry is of overwhelming importance. Reading these Somali, Afghan, Sudanese and Kurdish poets (26 countries are represented), you will understand why their scintillating and heartbreaking poems inspire such devotion.

freedom‘This groundbreaking anthology extends the territory of English poetry through a series of generous translations that make welcome the magnificent poetic traditions of many communities now settled here’ – Carol Ann Duffy.

# More information on website English PEN

See also on website PEN: Leading international poets visit the UK.
Celebrated poets from across the globe come to UK to celebrate launch of MYVOICE this July. magazine




Vocal: Zhimin Tang – Music: Tom America

In 2005 Tom America was introduced to Zhimin Tang a young Chinese woman who was present as a student at the Tien an Men square protests in april/june 1989. He then recorded her report of that historic moment. It forms the heart of his composition, their contribution to keep the memory of this event alive. At Tien an Men square the hopes of a new generation were lost, an era was deleted from history by the rulers. The composition ends with a few lines from the song (a lovesong actually) ‘Nothing to my name’ written by the popular singer/composer Cui Jian. It became the anthem of the generation present at the square in 1989.

Woensdag 4 juni 2014:
25 jaar geleden werd op het Tien-an-Men plein
een nieuwe generatie van haar dromen beroofd.



Het verhaal van de jonge student Zhimin Tang die er in 1989 bij was.
Stem: Zhimin Tang
Muziek: Tom America

4 juni 1989 – 4 juni 2014 magazine

More in: Art & Literature News, REPRESSION OF WRITERS, JOURNALISTS & ARTISTS, Tom America

Amnesty International anthology of poems: GROWN MEN AREN’T SUPPOSED TO CRY

poems-that-make-grown-men-cry01GROWN MEN AREN’T SUPPOSED TO CRY

But in this fascinating anthology, one hundred men – distinguished in literature and film, science and architecture, theatre and human rights – confess to being moved to tears by poems that haunt them. Representing twenty nationalities and ranging in age from their early 20s to their late 80s, the majority are public figures not prone to crying. Here they admit to breaking down when ambushed by great art, often in words as powerful as the poems themselves.
Seventy-five percent of the selected poems were written in the twentieth century, with more than a dozen by women. Their themes range from love in its many guises, through mortality and loss, to the beauty and variety of nature. Three men have suffered the pain of losing a child; others are moved to tears by the exquisite way a poet captures, in Alexander Pope’s famous phrase, ‘what oft was thought, but ne’er so well express’d’.
From J.J Abrams to John le Carré, Salman Rushdie to Jonathan Franzen, Daniel Radcliffe to Nick Cave, Ian McEwan to Stephen Fry, Stanley Tucci to Colin Firth, and Seamus Heaney to Christopher Hitchens, this collection delivers private insight into the souls of men whose writing, acting, and thinking are admired around the world.

poems-that-make-grown-men-cry02Compiled by Anthony and Ben Holden. Anthony is an award-winning journalist who has published more than 30 books, including biographies of Laurence Olivier, Tchaikovsky and Shakespeare.He has published translations of opera, ancient Greek plays and poetry. His son Ben is a writer and film producer. He was director of European Film and Television at Exclusive Media, where he helped relaunch Britain’s most famous film production label, Hammer. Anthony and Ben both live in London.


ISBN-13 9781471134890 Hardback
Pages 336
Size 13.5 x 21.6 cms

With contributors from Salman Rushdie to Jonathan Franzen, Daniel Radcliffe to Nick Cave and some of the most emotive lines in literature.

# See more at: website Amnesty Intenational


“What I most love about the title chosen by father-and-son editing team Anthony and Ben Holden is the proud grasp of emotion as mature and manly. Two words that become magnificent in their juxtaposition: ‘men’ and ‘cry’”. – Bel Mooney, The Daily Mail

poems-that-make-grown-men-cry03‘…That’s the great thing about a good anthology of poems: you are reminded of old friends and introduced to new ones […] this is a welcome addition to my shelves and I’ll look forward to “Poems That Make Women Cry”.’ – Wendy Cope, Sunday Telegraph

“The Holdens remind us that you don’t have to be an academic or a postgraduate in creative writing to be moved by verse…I defy anyone not to enjoy the Holdens’ book: It’s plain fun.” – Wall Street Journal

“Poems That Make Grown Men Cry is an anthology of some of the most emotive lines in literature chosen by 100 famous and admired men, ranging from Daniel Radcliffe to Nick Cave, John le Carré and Jonathan Franzen.” – Vanessa Thorpe, The Guardian

“Everyone who reads this collection will be roused: disturbed by the pain, exalted in the zest for joy given by poets” – The Observer

“The book is winning praise for introducing male readers to unfamiliar works and emotions.” – The Observer

“Yes, this book will make an ideal gift for the men in your life, particularly those who shudder at the very thought of reading poems. And, of course, as Nadine Gordimer’s and my personal examples prove, it can be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of gender or nationality. After all, that is the power of poetry: how it can speak to each one of us individually and intimately.” – Jenny Bhatt, Storyacious

“Various male Man Booker authors have been blubbing their hearts out in the name of charity. Poems that Make Grown Men Cry, edited by Anthony and Ben Holden, is a collection of verse that brings out the lachrymose side of a swathe of men not usually known for welling up.” – The Man Booker Prize magazine

More in: Art & Literature News, FLEURSDUMAL POETRY LIBRARY - classic, modern, experimental & visual & sound poetry, poetry in translation, city poets, poetry archive, pre-raphaelites, editor's choice, etc., REPRESSION OF WRITERS, JOURNALISTS & ARTISTS

Can poetry change the world?



Can poetry change the world?

Thursday 24 April

7.30pm – 10pm

Rich Mix, Bethnal Green Road, London, E1 6LA

English PEN invites you for a night of poetry, music and discussion on how literature and activism can come together. Featuring poets James Byrne, Sophie Mayer, Laila Sumpton, Aoife Mannix, Sonority Turner and DJ Nasty McQuaid. Hosted by Shane Solanki.

The evening will highlight PEN’s campaign for the release of imprisoned Cameroonian poet Enoh Meyomesse and celebrate the publication of Jail Verse: Poems from Kondengui Prison in English.

7.30pm Open-mic performances from Student PEN
8.00pm Panel discussion on How to be a literary activist with Sophie Mayer, Laila Sumpton and James Byrne.
8.45pm Performances from Laila Sumpton, Sonority Turner and Aoife Mannix
9.15pm- 10pm Afrobeats music from DJ Ian (Nasty) McQuaid

James Byrne is a British poet and Editor of The Wolf magazine, a poetry magazine he co-founded in 2002. His second poetry collection, Blood/Sugar, has just been published by Arc Publications. In 2008, he won the Treci Trg Poetry Festival prize in Serbia. In 2009 his poems were translated into Arabic for the Al-Sendian Cultural Festival in Syria. He is the co-editor of Voice Recognition: 21 Poets for the 21st Century, published by Bloodaxe, and with Sandeep Parmar he is co-editing Paris and Other Poems by Hope Mirrlees, which will be published by Fyfield Books in 2011.

Sophie Mayer is a poet and activist. She is the co-editor of Catechism: Poems for Pussy Riot, Binders Full of Women, and Glitter is a Gender (forthcoming from Contraband). Her most recent collection is signs of the sistership (with Sarah Crewe, Knives, Forks and Spoons) and her third full-length collection, (O), is due from Arc in 2015.

Laila Sumpton works as a poet and in the campaigns team for Plan UK, and her poetry regularly explores human rights themes and she runs creative campaigning workshops. She is a member of the Keats House Poets, co-edited ‘In Protest- 150 poems for human rights’ and is working on her first pamphlet.

Aoife Mannix is the author of four collections of poetry and a novel. She has been poet in residence for the Royal Shakespeare Company and BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Live. She has performed throughout the UK and toured internationally with the British Council to China, Latvia, Nigeria, Turkey, Taiwan, Thailand, India, Norway and Austria.

Stephanie (Sonority) Turner is a poet, performer and creative artist based in London. Stephanie has recently published ‘Writing in the Blackout’ an online anthology exploring censorship and freedom of speech with fellow Keats House Poets Laila Sumpton. She is a Rise Slam Champion (2007), was Poet in Residence at the London Transport Museum (2008), was shortlisted for City read’s Young Writer in Residence (2012) and was selected as the ‘Poet representing Camden’ by Adidas for their Olympic Campaign (2012). She regularly performs her work and organises events and workshops in various settings across the country.

Ian McQuaid is a journalist and DJ. His writing has appeared in The Guardian, Time Out, Vice, DJ Mag and more. He is the contributing editor of music & arts website The Ransom Note, and DJs around London as Oyinboy and Nasty McQuaid.

Shane Solanki is a poet and performer. He is committed to poetry, music and theatre in education and works countrywide as a facilitator and workshop leader with organizations such as A New Direction, Creative Partnerships, Eastside Educational Trust and Bow Arts Trust. He currently resides in Hackney.

# website PEN London magazine

More in: Art & Literature News, Literary Events, REPRESSION OF WRITERS, JOURNALISTS & ARTISTS

India: PEN protests withdrawal of best-selling book


India: PEN protests withdrawal of best-selling book

In 2009, Penguin published The Hindus: An Alternative History by American Indologist Professor Wendy Doniger. The book became a number one bestseller in the non-fiction category in India and received positive reviews in the international media. It has also been subject to criticism, including an online petition highlighting supposed factual inaccuracies and calling for the immediate withdrawal of the book signed by more than 10,000 people.

In 2011, Dinanath Batra of Shiksha Bachao Andolan filed a case against the publisher, claiming that the book was offensive to Hindus and therefore in violation of Section 295A of the Indian penal code which prohibits ‘deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.’

According to the petitioners’ lawyer, on 10 February 2014 the publisher agreed to withdraw the book and to pulp recalled, withdrawn and unsold copies at their own cost.

The PEN All-India Centre in Mumbai and the PEN Delhi Centre have expressed their grave disappointment at the news, and published a statement from Professor Doniger: ‘I was, of course, angry and disappointed to see this happen, and I am deeply troubled by what it foretells for free speech in India in the present, and steadily worsening, political climate…. I do not blame Penguin Books, India. Other publishers have just quietly withdrawn other books without making the effort that Penguin made to save this book. Penguin, India, took this book on knowing that it would stir anger in the Hindutva ranks, and they defended it in the courts for four years, both as a civil and as a criminal suit.

They were finally defeated by the true villain of this piece – the Indian law that makes it a criminal rather than civil offense to publish a book that offends any Hindu, a law that jeopardizes the physical safety of any publisher, no matter how ludicrous the accusation brought against a book.’

On 14 February, Penguin India issued a statement on the case in which they echo Doniger’s concern about freedom of expression in the country: ‘The Indian Penal Code, and in particular section 295A of that code, will make it increasingly difficult for any Indian publisher to uphold international standards of free expression without deliberately placing itself outside the law. This is, we believe, an issue of great significance not just for the protection of creative freedoms in India but also for the defence of fundamental human rights.’

As former trustee and chair of English PEN’s Writers at Risk Committee: Salil Tripathi states in his piece on the controversy, Penguin’s disappointing surrender:

‘Those who disagreed with Doniger had options—to protest, to argue, to publish their own book as response, and if they had a copy, to shut it. Nobody is being forced to read it. Now, go to your electronic readers, buy it, download it, read it; if you go abroad, get copies—there’s no ban on its import; and reinforce the idea that a pluralistic India does not have singular views. India thrives in its diversity and plurality—its culture and its opinions.’

The Hindus: An Alternative History by Wendy Doniger is available from Foyles.


Sign the petition: PEN Delhi is supporting this petition calling for the reform of Sections 153A and 295A of the Indian Penal Code. Sign the petition

Send a letter of appeal: Write to the Indian authorities protesting the withdrawal of Wendy Doniger’s The Hindus: An Alternative History and calling for the reform of Sections 153A and 295A. A sample letter is provided on the English PEN website but it is always better if you put the appeal in your own words.

Send a message of support: If you would like to send a message of support to Wendy Doniger, please email your message to and they will pass it on.

# Read more on website English PEN magazine


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