Following the uncovering of plans by an offshoot of the Islamic State terror militia to attack the progressive Ibn Rushd Goethe Mosque in Berlin, PEN Berlin has expressed its solidarity with its founding member Seyran Ateş. “Fortunately, the killers were stopped in time,” said PEN Berlin spokesperson Deniz Yücel. “Ten days after the horrific massacre by Hamas in Israel, this news reminds us that Islamist terrorism also threatens open society in Germany. The hatred of these people for everything and everyone that doesn’t fit into their matchbox world is not a misguided reaction to any grievance; any contextualisation must begin with the religiously charged, murderous and death-obsessed ideology called Jihadism.”
Shortly before Salman Rushdie will be awarded the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, Yücel recalled the solidarity reading organised by PEN Berlin about a week after the attempted murder of Rushdie in August 2022: “In Germany, there is no one whose life has been threatened by Islamists for as long as Seyran Ateş. Even though she knew she would attract even more hatred by taking part in the Rushdie reading, she didn’t hesitate for a second.”
Before reading a passage from Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses that night at the Berliner Ensemble, Ateş made a personal remark to Muslims: “Neither God nor the Prophet are offended. Stop being offended all the time!”
Yücel added: “Seyran Ateş and Salman Rushdie are just two prominent names that show that this is not about a culture war between ‘the West’ and ‘Islam’, but about the fact that these people hate free thought and free life. Seyran Ateş is not a literary figure, she is a publicist and a lawyer, but in this respect she is our Salman Rushdie.
PEN Berlin. We stand by our word.