Pen Makes Appeal to Yale Press
PEN American Center has joined the controversy over a decision by Yale University Press to excise images of Muhammad from one of its new books and urged Yale to reconsider. PEN, the literary and human rights organization, sent a letter to Yale’s president and board calling the decision “out of character with Yale, its reputation and its leadership position.”
The book, “The Cartoons That Shook the World” by Jytte Klausen, details the violent protests that erupted after a dozen provocative drawings by Danish cartoonists featuring the prophet were published in 2005 and 2006 in European newspapers. The cartoons, as well as other images of Muhammad, including a Doré illustration for “Dante’s Inferno,” were initially to be included. After Yale consulted with security and Islamic experts, it decided to pull all images of the prophet.
The letter said that after debates among members from around the world, including countries where mob protests resulted in deaths, PEN reached “one clear, consensus position: The introduction of violence or threats of violence into debates over art and ideas is to be rejected and condemned.”
The letter concluded that PEN was troubled by the “assessment that publishing the images could provoke a violent response — which we believe discredits both Professor Klausen’s work and its readership — and by the decision to pull the images based on speculative threats.”