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Neil Gaiman and Others Replace the PEN Authors Protesting Charlie Hebdo Award

Last week a half-dozen authors withdrew from a PEN awards gala over a freedom of speech award set to be given to the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, citing the French satirical magazine’s Islamophobia.

On Monday PEN announced that Neil Gaiman, Alison Bechdel, Art Spiegelman, George Packer, Alain Mabanckou and Azar Mafisi would replace the protesting authors, who included Teju Cole, Rachel Kushner, Deborah Eisenberg, and several others. The back bench arrives as the protest itself grows bigger, with more than 200 writers signing a letter to the PEN American Center objecting to the award.

RELATED: Charlie Hebdo Cartoonist: I Will No Longer Draw Prophet Muhammad

“The Charlie Hebdo cartoonists are getting an award for courage,” Gaiman told the Associated Press. “They continued putting out their magazine after the offices were firebombed [in 2011], and the survivors have continued following the murders.”

Charlie Hebdo is to receive the Freedom of Expression Courage Award, a relatively new honor, and one the dissenting writers believe could have gone to more deserving recipients. The Satanic Verses author Salman Rushdie criticized the decisions last week. “If PEN as a free speech organization can’t defend and celebrate people who have been murdered for drawing pictures, then frankly the organization is not worth the name,” he said.

The gala is scheduled for tomorrow.

[h/t Los Angeles Times]

[Image via Entertainment Press / Shutterstock.com]

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