The German city of Dortmund has rescinded its decision to award Kamila Shamsie a literary prize, citing her support for the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement as the reason.
The British Pakistani author was announced as this year’s winner of the Nelly Sachs Prize (named after a Jewish poet and Nobel Laureate) earlier this month.
However, in a statement yesterday, the organisers shared that the eight-member jury has reversed its decision and that the 2019 award will not be handed to any author.
“Despite prior research, the members of the jury were not aware that the author has been participating in the boycott measures against the Israeli government for its Palestinian policies since 2014,” the statement said.
They added, “Shamsie’s political positioning to actively participate in the cultural boycott as part of the BDS (Boycott Disinvestment Sanctions) campaign against the Israeli government is clearly in contradiction to the statutory objectives of the award and the spirit of the Nelly Sachs Prize.”
Shamsie condemned the decision in her response and said it was a “matter of outrage that the BDS movement that campaigns against the government of Israel for its acts of discrimination and brutality against Palestinians should be held up as something shameful and unjust”.
“It is a matter of great sadness to me that a jury should bow to pressure and withdraw a prize from a writer who is exercising her freedom of conscience and freedom of expression,” she wrote on Twitter.
— Artists for Palestine UK (@Art4PalestineUK) September 18, 2019
— Mirza Waheed (@MirzaWaheed) September 16, 2019
Actions of Dortmund Literary Council in Germany are very disappointing! Literature exists for offering critique, silencing voices critical of Israel in Literature defeats the purpose of its Literature's existence! https://t.co/imWCF5yiZ2 via @@GVS_News
— Moeed Pirzada (@MoeedNj) September 18, 2019
Principled & praiseworthy by @Kamilashamsie. Ill-advised for Dortmund to withdraw prize. Tantamount to acceding to Zionist pressure. Will reflect poorly as to values the Prize supports. Shame over one travesty ought not to turn into support for another https://t.co/XvTD543Nf3
— Osama Siddique (@DrOsamaSiddique) September 18, 2019
In May, the German parliament passed a motion condemning the BDS movement as antisemitic. The movement was launched in 2005 by Palestinians to generate international pressure on Israel to respect Palestinian human rights.
Originally published on https://images.dawn.com