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: 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