The Lebanese PEN Centre denounces and condemns the abject massacre which took place in the premises of satirical publication Charlie Hebdo in Paris

Lebanon-PEN-300x199A Word from the President on this macabre occasion:

We, Lebanese writers, from a country where multi-confessionalism has allowed, despite all political risks, the free expression of each of us of our own identity without abusing our right to alterity, are appalled by this wave of violence and radicalism expressed across the Middle East, in Lebanon, in Syria, in Egypt, in the West, and our colleagues, journalists and employees of Charlie Hebdo, have paid the price; murdered after receiving threats and intimidation several times in the past. Friends, colleagues, journalists and cartoonists have lost their lives in this horrible massacre. We pour our grief into our horror-stricken words. We are concerned for the profession of journalism. For the very essence of writing. Freely. Truly free. Essentially free.

We will not concede to politics of terror. Freedom must not yield to any threat. Nietzsche said, “Write, in order not to die of the truth”. This quest for truth with which writing is intertwined cannot, and must not ,endanger the lives of those involved in it. To kill a human being for their freedom to think and to write is an abomination befitting of an apocalypse. At the same time it is imperative, whilst condemning the despicable acts of individuals not representing the religion in whose name they perpetuate their acts, that we cling to humanistic values. We, Lebanese writers, condemn this act whilst urging that we do not sink into the demonisation of an entire community from an individual act, regardless of the horror of this act. Such is the challenge, the difficulty, and also the love… which is missing more and more… but where to share this love for others which is so lacking these days, this respect for free speech and the work of journalists. The space is shrinking constantly. It is more necessary than ever to fight to ensure that freedom of expression never lacks space. It comes from the health of our global diversity. From our authors. From literature. From journalism. From the right to free speech.

Hyam Yared
President, Lebanese PEN Centre

(Translated by Laura Hargreaves)