With questions still lingering about Sony Pictures’s release plans for the Seth Rogen comedy The Interview, after the studio suffered a cyber attack and a terrorist threat issued by the North Korean government, the PEN American Center has published an open letter to Sony CEO Michael Lynton, pushing for the film’s distribution.

The letter, posted on the PEN website on Monday, compares the situation with The Interview to the issues that accompanied the publication of Salman Rushdie’s 1989 novel The Satanic Verses. That novel famously earned the author a fatwa from the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, while also bringing threats to those planning to distribute the novel, namely the publisher (Penguin Books) and booksellers. The PEN letter says the “dissemination” of that novel was important, and that PEN stands with Sony in supporting its effort to allow The Interview to be seen.

The letter continues: “We extend our solidarity to Sony Entertainment, and offer our support in whatever form is useful to you and to all those involved in The Interview. The attack on Sony Pictures is an assault on the wider creative community; one that must be met with unity and resolve.”

PEN, an orgnazition made up of over 3,000 writers, editors and artists that supports creative expression and free speech, said in the letter that North Korea’s attempts to block The Interview from being seen “makes a mockery of intellectual freedom” and that pulling the film from “all platforms of distribution” would be a “lasting blow for free expression.” 

The letter is signed by a number of authors, including Rushdie (who is a president emeritus at PEN), and urges those in support of free speech to “collaborate with Sony” and help out by, if necessary, hosting their own screening of The Interview.

One publisher, so far, has responded to the letter. Peter Mayer, former publisher of Penguin and current head of Overlook Press, issued his own missive to PEN’s executive director, Suzanne Nozel, who signed the PEN letter, saying the organization has “done exactly the right thing” by publicly supporting Sony. 

Mayer, who ran Penguin when The Satanic Verses was published, said that, just as the major theater chains have decided not to show The Interview, Rushdie’s novel was not initially to be carried by the then-major book chains. Eventually, though, the situation changed, as Mayer recounted, noting that it was the employees of the book chains who ultimately “rose up and saw to it that the hesitant executives changed their position.”

The hope now, Mayer said, is that PEN’s letter and “any actions to support it” will sway the movie theater chain executives. “There are in 2014 many more ways to distribute a film or a book than there were in 1989,” Mayer wrote. “I can only hope that your letter and any actions to support it will be heard by those who have the power to enable the film to be seen by anyone with an interest in seeing it.”

As of this writing, Sony has worked out an agreement that will allow The Interview to open in a select number of theaters tomorrow, on Christmas day.