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Copenhagen Shooting: PEN Condemns Attack on Free Expression

Monday 16 February 2015 - 12:06pm

PEN International condemns the armed attack on free expression that took place at a seminar on free speech and blasphemy in Copenhagen on 14 February 2015 and also the connected shooting of a man at the city’s largest synagogue in the early hours of 15 February. 

The resolution of conflicts – intellectual, cultural or armed – comes about through open dialogue. PEN defends those who peacefully exercise their right to free expression. 

The most insidious threat to a writer is self-censorship, whether that is provoked by fear of violence or by the reluctance to communicate freely that is the natural reaction to mass governmental surveillance of all our electronic communications.

Our friends and colleagues at PEN’s Nordic centres have recently issued a statement on the Copenhagen attacks. Please read below and share.

A Statement From The Nordic PEN Centres Regarding The Attacks in Copenhagen

The attack on the Saturday meeting in Copenhagen, where people came together to discuss freedom of expression in the face of blasphemy, and the subsequent shooting at the city´s synagogue, is a chilling reminder that the open societies of the North European countries are also faced with threats against their core values:  the free exchange of ideas in a secular society. These cruel attempts at suppression and the loss of life they brought with them can only be lamented and condemned in the strongest terms.

That the events take place on the 25th anniversary of Iran´s fatwa against the British-Indian author Salman Rushdie underscores that freedom of expression is universal and cross-cultural. Today censorship and violence threatens authors, visual artists and cartoonists, in far, far, too many societies. The Nordic PEN Centres will continue to fight for their rights to express themselves without persecution, both at home and abroad.

The Nordic countries have a long history of respecting freedom of expression and encouraging sharp social criticism in all media. Recently an international survey listed Denmark as one of the most free countries in the world. We will not allow the forces of intolerance to destroy that with their crude tactics.

Dansk PEN - The Danish PEN Centre

Norsk P.E.N. - The Norwegian PEN Centre
PEN á Íslandi - The Icelandic PEN Centre
Suomen PEN - The Finnish PEN Centre
Svenska P.E.N. - The Swedish PEN Centre