Kamila Shamsie denied German literary award for supporting Palestine

Published: September 19, 2019
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Kamila Shamsie at Karachi Literature Festival 2013. PHOTO:AYESHA MIR/EXPRESS

Kamila Shamsie at Karachi Literature Festival 2013. PHOTO:AYESHA MIR/EXPRESS

British-Pakistani author Kamila Shamsie has been stripped off of her German Literary award due to her support for Palestine.

Shamsie was announced as this year’s winner of the Nelly Sachs Prize (named after a Jewish poet and Nobel Laureate) in September but her support for the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has made the organisers rethink their decision of awarding the author.

In a statement on Wednesday, the organisers shared that the eight-member jury has reversed its decision and 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 read.

“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 saying, “It is 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 Tweeted.

Many lauded the author for voicing her support for Palestine.

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