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Salman Rushdie blasts novelist friends for snubbing Charlie Hebdo honour

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By John Glenday, Reporter

April 28, 2015 | 2 min read

Sir Salman Rushdie has publicly criticised his friends and fellow novelists Peter Carey and Michael Ondaatje for boycotting a US freedom of speech award for French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Both writers had snubbed the event after claiming that a publication which was offensive to Muslims was unsuited for such an honour, a decision which led Rushdie to lash out and label the pair "pussies"

Rushdie wrote on Twitter: "The award will be given. PEN is holding firm. Just 6 pussies. Six Authors in Search of a bit of Character."

Defending his stance however Carey told The New York Times: "Was it a freedom-of-speech issue for PEN America to be self-righteous about? All this is complicated by PEN’s seeming blindness to the cultural arrogance of the French nation, which does not recognise its moral obligation to a large and disempowered segment of their population."

Four other writers have also pulled out of the event citing similar concerns; notably Francine Prose, Teju Cole, Taiye Selasi and Rachel Kushner.

The annual Freedom of Expression Courage Award is scheduled to be handed over by free speech organisation PEN in New York on 5 May.

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