Charlie Hebdo is the winner of a literary award. The PEN association in America gave the award to the magazine as a sign of the right to freedom of speech.
Charlie Hebdo got the PEN literary award at the American Center gala that took place a while back. The issue was the protection of the right to free expression. Among the myriad people who attended the event may be included: Salman Rushdie, Neil Gaiman and Roz Chast. As for the chief guests, they included: Top Stoppard, Khadija Ismaliyova and Markus Dohle.
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Gerard Biard and Jean-Baptiste received the award among cheers and applause by the crowd of seated literary figures and amateur literati. The decision was taken after seven days of deep thought on whether to take the precarious step or not. The overall tenor was one of both freedom and a sense of loss. Michael Ondaatje was one of many who had left the platform since they thought that sacrilege had been done.
Francine Prose and a handful of other authors also boycotted the award-giving ceremony. Over 200 writers signed a letter condemning the act by saying that the cartoons portrayed by the magazine must have been an insult to the Muslims of the world. Joyce Carol Oates was one of them. And so was Michael Cunningham. Salman Rushdie though spoke out in favor of Charlie Hebdo and its staff.
The president of PEN said that when someone died for the sake of freedom of speech he or she deserved a PEN Award. One reason the whole scene took place peacefully was because many of those who opposed the event stayed away from it. Rushdie was in particular very vociferous in his defense of the award being given to Charlie Hebdo.
Someone spoke of how shocking images and words had their rightful place in the world since that was what freedom of expression was all about. The PEN gala was attended by many who had to pay $1250 each for the overpriced ticket. The security arrangements were very stringent seeing a recent shooting in Dallas in similar circumstances.
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A dozen journalists of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical magazine, had been murdered in a terrorist attack at the start of the year. Ever since then a debate had been ongoing in the culture wars regarding whether there were to be any limits to freedom of expression and speech.