British-Pakistani author Kamila Shamsie has described it as a “matter of outrage” that a Germany jury rescinded a prestigious award over her support for the Palestinian-led boycott of Israel.
According to a report in the Guardian, Shamsie was originally awarded the €15,000 ($16,572) Nelly Sachs prize on 6 September, named after the German-Jewish Nobel laureate and awarded by the German city of Dortmund to a writer promoting “tolerance and reconciliation”.
Kamila Shamsie’s book award withdrawn over her part in Israel boycott https://t.co/38f5H2YAzD
— Guardian Books (@GuardianBooks) September 19, 2019
However, the eight-member jury subsequently declared that they had not been aware of Shamsie’s support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign since 2014.
Despite acknowledging the author’s “outstanding literary work”, the jury decided to withdraw the award, on the basis that “Shamsie’s political positioning to actively participate in the cultural boycott as part of the BDS campaign…is clearly in contradiction to the statutory objectives of the award”.
The Palestine exception to free speech https://t.co/Ygg2rPho1R
— Haymarket Books (@haymarketbooks) September 20, 2019
Responding to the reversal, Shamsie said it was a matter of great sadness to her “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.”
The author added:
“The jury has chosen to withdraw the award from me on the basis of my support for a non-violent campaign to bring pressure on the Israeli government,” the author added.
She further described it as a “matter of outrage that the BDS movement (modeled on the South African boycott) 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.”
(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)