24th ilb
5 – 14 Sep 2024 Program
9 – 18 Sep 2024 Young Program

Worldwide Reading of selected poems and other texts in support of Ashraf Fayadh on 14.01.2016

The international literature festival Berlin (ilb) calls on all individuals, institutions, schools and media outlets that care about justice and freedom to participate in a worldwide reading of selected poems and other texts in support of Ashraf Fayadh, on 14 January 2016.

Ashraf Fayadh, a 35 year-old Palestinian poet and art curator, who lives in Saudi Arabia, has been sentenced to death by a Saudi court on 17 November 2015 for the “crime” of apostasy. He was denied access to a lawyer throughout his detention and trial.

Fayadh has been a key figure in taking Saudi contemporary art to a global audience. Chris Dercon, the director of Tate Modern, and a friend of the poet, described him as “someone who is outspoken and daring.”

Besides renouncing Islam, Fayadh also stands accused of blaspheming and promoting atheism through his collection of poetry, Instructions Within, published in 2008. Fayadh has asserted that the poems are “just about me being [a] Palestinian refugee … about cultural and philosophical issues. But the religious extremists explained it as destructive ideas against God.”

The charges, coupled with the lack of due legal process, show that it is not Fayadh who is guilty but rather Saudi Arabia that is once again guilty of disregarding human rights and the rule of law. In various surveys the kingdom continually ranks as one of the least free countries in the world. According to Human Rights Watch, Saudi Arabia’s ever more repressive laws now criminalize free expression and give the authorities excessive police powers that are not subject to judicial oversight.

Ashraf Fayadh’s case is not the story of one man, but a symbol for all the victims of a deeply repressive regime that is supported by Western governments who claim to value freedom and democracy above all. Right now Saudi Arabia sits on the UN Human Rights Council, a body whose members are supposedly those who uphold the highest standards of civil liberties. Saudi Arabia is there since 2013 thanks to secret vote-trading deals conducted with the UK, as revealed by Wikileaks. Other Western countries keep weapons and legitimacy streaming towards Saudi Arabia in order to keep oil flowing towards themselves. Caught in the current are ordinary people like Ashraf Fayadh, whose rights go unheeded in the kingdom and abroad.

Amidst all the recent outrage expressed by Western leaders against IS, in the rhetoric of war and threats of retribution, there has not been a word about Saudi Arabia’s role in helping to promulgate the virulent form of Islam practiced by IS. There is no doubt about the overlaps in their ideology: both certainly endorse lashing or beheading (on the latter front Saudi Arabia actually outdid IS in the last year) anyone who does not share their views.

With this worldwide reading, we demand that the UK and US governments intervene on behalf of Ashraf Fayadh as a first step towards pressuring Saudi Arabia to raise its human rights standards.

We further demand that the United Nations suspend Saudi Arabia from the Human Rights Council until its abysmal record on upholding civil liberties improves.

We also call on Western governments, especially in the UK and the US, to acknowledge the problems inherent in maintaining cozy, unquestioning relations with a country renowned for systematic human rights abuses.



Héctor Abad, Colombia
Akwasi Aidoo, Ghana/ USA
Alaa Al-Aswany, Egypt
Nujoom Alghanem, United Arab Emirates
Ahmed Almulla, Saudi Arabia
Badria Al-Shihi, Oman
Juan Álvarez, Colombia.
Claudia Amengual, Uruguay
Martin Amis, UK/ USA
Chloe Aridjis, Mexico/ UK
Homero Aridjis, Mexico
Rae Armantrout, USA
Marina Arrate, Chile
Hanan Awwad, Palestine
Liana Badr, Palestine
Carmen-Francesca Banciu, Germany
John Banville, Ireland
Jorge Baradit, Chile
Priya Basil, UK/ Germany
Stefania Battistella, Italy
Yahia Belaskri, Algeria/ France
Carmen Berenguer, Chile
Bengt Berg, Sweden
Corina Bernic, Romania/ Germany
Susan Bernofsky, USA
Charles Bernstein, USA
Mahi Binebine, Morocco
Carol Birch, UK
Marica Bodrozic, Germany
Knut Boeser, Germany
Alida Bok, Sweden
Mirko Bonné, Germany
Piedad Bonnett, Colombia
Lolita Bosch, Spain
Rachid Boudjedra, Algeria
Alida Bremer, Croatia/ Germany
Hans Christoph Buch, Germany
Gabriela Cabezón Cámara, Argentina
Nicole Cage, Martinique
Juan Cárdenas, Colombia
Rafael Cardoso, Brasil
Roberto Castillo Sandoval, Chile
Brian Castro, Australia
Patrizia Cavalli, Italy
Amir Hassan Cheheltan, Iran
Neeli Cherkovski USA
Mariana Chiesa Mateos, Argentina/ Spain/ Italy
Alberto Chimal, Mexico
Chirikure Chirikure, Zimbabwe
Noam Chomsky, USA
Yiorgos Chouliaras, Greece
Ana Clavel, Mexico
Jennifer Clement, USA/ Mexico
Oliverio Coelho, Argentina
Liliana Colanzi, Bolivia
Peter Cole, USA/ Israel
Larissa Contreras, Chile
Beppe Costa, Italy
Alejandra Costamagna, Chile
Juan Cruz Ruiz, Spain
João Paulo Cuenca, Brazil
György Dalos, Hungary
Achmat Dangor, South Africa
Edwidge Danticat, Haiti/ USA
Marie Darrieussecq, France
Keki Daruwalla, India
Michael Day, USA
Aleš Debeljak, Slovenia
Jan de Leeuw, Belgium
Ming Di, China/ USA
Lidija Dimkovska, Macedonia
Mircea Dinescu, Romania
Jörn Donner, Finland/ Sweden
Ariel Dorfman, Chile
Germain Droogenbroodt, Belgium
Tanja Dückers, Germany
Negin Ehtesabian, Iran
Mauricio Electorat, Chile
Mohsen Emadi, Iran
Ashur Etwebi, Libya/ Norway
Jeffrey Eugenides, USA
Luis Fayad, Colombia
Hatto Fischer, Germany
Diego Fonseca, Argentina
Werner Fritsch, Germany
Jostein Gaarder, Norway
Timothy Garton Ash, UK
Verónica Gerber Bicecci, Mexico
Jochen Gerz, Germany/ Ireland
Paul Ginsborg, UK/ Italy
Rüdiger Görner, Germany
Susanne Goga-Klinkenberg, Germany
Namita Gokhale, India
Georges-Arthur Goldschmidt, France
Peter Goldsworthy, Australia
Patricia Grace, New Zealand
Kurt Groenewold, Germany
Jan Groh, Germany
Durs Grünbein, Germany/ Italy
Carla Guelfenbein, Chile
Rafael Gumucio, Chile
Nedim Gürsel, Turkey/ France
Rawi Hage, Lebanon/ Canada
Maik Hamburger, Germany
Ana Harcha Cortés, Chile
Rodrigo Hasbún, Bolivia
Josef Haslinger, Austria/ Germany
Paal-Helge Haugen, Norway
Yuri Herrera, Mexico
Stefan Hertmans, Belgium
Sverre Henmo, Norway
Edward Hirsch, USA
Adina Hoffman, USA/ Israel
Rolf Hosfeld, Germany
David Howard, New Zealand
Renate Hürtgen, Germany
Iman Humaydan, Lebanon
Dieter Ingenschay, Germany
Hendrick Jackson, Germany
Gerald Jatzek, Austria
Elfriede Jelinek, Austria
Viktor Jerofejew, Russia
Gail Jones, Australia
Lloyd Jones, New Zealand
Fady Joudah, Palestine/USA
Laia Jufresa, Mexico
Peter Stephan Jungk, Austria/ France
Sabine Kebir, Germany
Thomas Keneally, Australia
Yasmina Khadra, Algeria
Waqas Khwaja, USA
Erling Kittelsen, Norway
Freya Klier, Germany
Sibylle Knauss, Germany
Marie-Luise Knott, Germany
Wayne Koestenbaum, USA
Wilfried Krätzschmar, Germany
Ursula Krechel, Germany
Judith Kuckart, Germany
Viacheslav Kuprianov, Russia
Andrei Kurkov, Ukraine
Carlos Labbé, Chile
Stan Lafleur, Germany
Laila Lalami, USA/ Morocco
Christoph Leisten, Germany
Rafael Lemus, Mexico
Jürgen Lodemann, Germany
Luis López-Aliaga, Chile
Paul Michael Lützeler, Germany/ USA
Mohamed Magani, Algeria
Jamal Mahjoub, Sudan/ UK
Geert Mak, Netherlands
Norman Manea, Romania/ USA
Alberto Manguel, Argentina/ France
Émile Martel, Canada
Ian McEwan, UK
Maaza Mengiste, Ethiopia/ USA
Courtney Sina Meredith, New Zealand
Lina Meruane, Chile
Amanda Michalopoulou, Greece
Dragana Mladenovic, Serbia
Hala Mohammad, Syria
Sylvia Molloy, Argentina
Herta Müller, Romania/ Germany
Adolf Muschg, Switzerland
Kiran Nagarkar, India
Guadalupe Nettel, Mexico
Obi Nwakanma, Nigeria
Moni Nilsson, Swedenmanguel
Bernard Noël, France
Florence Noiville, France
Ostap Nożak, Ukraine/ Poland
Brigitte Oleschinski, Germany
Amir Or, Israel
Uri Orlev, Poland/ Israel
José Ovejero, Spain
Peter Pabisch, Austria/ USA
Michael Palmer, USA
Miquel de Palol, Spain
Orhan Pamuk, Turkey/ USA
Tim Parks, UK
Richard Parra, Peru/ USA
Don Paterson, Scotland
Edmundo Paz Soldán, Bolivia
Andras Petöcz, Hungary
Kornelijus Platelis, Lithuania
Elisabeth Plessen, Germany
Marko Pogacar, Croatia
Marie Pohl, Germany
Jean Portante, Luxembourg/ France
Francine Prose, USA
Ilma Rakusa, Switzerland
Fareed Ramadan, Bahrain
Jürgen Rennert, Germany
Delimir Rešicki, Croatia
Laura Restrepo, Colombia/ Spain
Mónica Ríos, Chile
Antonio della Rocca, Italy
Göran Rosenberg, Sweden
Gabriel Rosenstock, Ireland
Nilanjana S Roy, India
Raza Rumi, Pakistan/ USA
Mikhail Ryklin, Russia
Claudia Salazar, Peru
Eurig Salisbury, UK
Mohamed Salmawy, Egypt
Alejandro Sánchez-Aizcorbe, Peru
Francisco Sánchez Jiménez, Spain
Marta Sanz Pastor, Spain
Sapphire, USA
Joachim Sartorius, Germany
Ute Scheub, Germany
Wolfgang Schiffer, Germany
Robert Schindel, Austria
Elke Schmitter, Germany
Peter Schneider, Germany
Jenny Schon, Germany
Lorenz Schröter, Germany
Raoul Schrott, Austria
Christa Schuenke, Germany
Tom Schulz, Germany
Samanta Schweblin, Argentina
Constantin Severin, Romania
Elif Shafak, Turkey/ UK
Farshid Shafiee, Iran
Owen Sheers, UK
Adania Shibli, Palestine/ Germany
Mansoureh Shojaee, Iran
Pablo Simonetti, Chile
Rajvinder Singh, India/ Germany
César Silva Márquez, Mexico
Sjón, Iceland
Eugene Skeef, South Africa/ UK
Ostap Slyvynsky, Ukraine
Dorothea Smartt, UK/ Barbados
Tzveta Sofronieva, Bulgaria/ Germany
Gabriela Căluțiu Sonnenberg, Romania
Ahdaf Soueif, Egypt/ UK
Wole Soyinka, Nigeria
Klaus Staeck, Germany
Peter Stamm, Switzerland
Kanta Stanchina, India/ Germany
C.K. Stead, New Zealand
Robert Max Steenkist, Colombia/ Netherlands
Aleš Šteger, Slovenia
Stefanie von Steinaecker, Germany
Leander Sukov, Germany
E. E. Sule, Nigeria
Juan Pablo Sutherland, Chile
George Szirtes, Hungary/ UK
Yoko Tawada, Germany/ Japan
Janne Teller, Denmark
Ece Temelkuran, Turkey
Habib Tengour, Algeria
Hans Thill, Germany
Sarah Thilykou, Greece
Annika Thor, Sweden
Uwe Timm, Germany
Alia Trabucco Zerán, Chile
Fernanda Trías, Uruguay
Dubravka Ugresic, Croatia/ Netherlands
David Unger, Guatemala
Luisa Valenzuela, Argentina
Mario Vargas Llosa, Peru/ Spain
Anna Lidia Vega Serova, Cuba
Magali Velasco Vargas, Mexico
Ortensia Visconti, Italy
Ivan Vladislavic, South Africa
István Vörös, Hungary
Nyein Way, Myanmar
Stefan Weidner, Germany
Eliot Weinberger, USA
Irvine Welsh, UK
Herbert Wiesner, Germany
Robert Williams, UK
Debi Wodraska, USA
Carlos Wynter Melo, Panamá
Gisela von Wysocki, Germany
Samar Yazbek, Syria/ France
Alejandro Zambra, Chile
Zingonia Zingone, Italy
Jovan Zivlak, Serbia
Slavoj Žižek, Slovenia
Raúl Zurita, Chile
Maryam Raeesdana, Iran/ USA
Berdj Terzian, Egypt
Seta Terzian, Egypt

PEN Centres
PEN International, Jennifer Clement, Eugene Schoulgin, Gloria Guardia, Hori Takeaki, James Tennant, Jarkko Tontti, Carles Torner and Salil Tripathi
PEN African Writers Abroad, UK
PEN Afrikaans, Marga Stoffer, Izak de Vries
PEN American Center, Joanne Leedom-Ackerman, Clarisse Rosaz Shariyf
PEN Australia/ Melbourne, Christine McKenzie, Judith Rodriguez
PEN Austria, Helmuth Niederle
PEN Bangladesh, Syeda Aireen Jaman
Basque PEN, Urtzi Urritikoetxea, Laura Mintegi, Teresa Toda
PEN Bolivia, Biyú Suárez C.
PEN Bosnia and Herzegovina, Nedzad Ibrahimovic
PEN Bulgaria, Boyko Lambovski
PEN Cambodia, Heng Sreang
PEN Canada, Brendan de Caires
PEN Català, Carme Arenas, Raffaella Salierno, Miquel Berga, Vicent Berenguer, Miquel Àngel Llauger, Antoni Clapés, Cinta Arasa, Ricard Ripoll, Sebastià Bennassar, Heike Nottebaum, Joan Borja
Independent Chinese PEN, Bei Ling, Meng Lang, Xie Di
Taipei Chinese PEN
PEN Colombia, Carlos Vasquez, Ruben Dario Florez, Luis Fayad
PEN Croatia, Nadežda Čačinovič, Tomica Bajsić
PEN Deutschland, Regula Venske
PEN Denmark, Per Øhrgaard, Mille Rode
English PEN, Cat Lucas
PEN Eritrea in Exile, Dessale B. Abraham
PEN Esperanto, Chiara Macconi
PEN Estonia, Kätlin Kaldmaa, Igor Kotjuh, Kai Aareleid
PEN Finland, Sirpa Kähkönen, Marianne Bargum, Iida Simes, Johanna Sillanpää
PEN Flanders, Natalie Ariën, Sven Cooremans, Maarten Inghels
Pen France, Jean-Luc Despax
PEN Center of German-Speaking Writers Abroad, Gabrielle Alioth
PEN Ghana, Frankie Asare-Donkoh
PEN Guatemala, Carlos René García
PEN Haiti, Jem Milcé
PEN Honduras, Dina Meza
PEN All India Centre, Ranjit Hoskote
PEN Italy/ Trieste, Antonio della Rocca
PEN Langue d’Oc, Miquèl Décor
PEN Lebanon
PEN Mexico, Magali Tercero
PEN Mexico/ San Miguel, Anthony Cohan, Lucina Kathmann
PEN Myanmar, Ma Thida, Zarchi Oo
PEN Netherlands, Manon Uphoff, Aleid Truijens
PEN New Zealand, Jackie Dennis, Lesley Marshall, Julie Ryan
PEN Nigeria, Olúwáfirópò Ewénlá
PEN Norway, Hege Newth Nouri
PEN Palestine
PEN Peru, Tulio Mora
PEN Poland, Anna Nasilowska
PEN Portugal, Teresa Salema Cadete
PEN Puerto Rico, Andrés Candelario, Miriam Montes Mock, Rosa Margarita Hernández, Melvin Rodríguez-Rodríguez, Helga Umpierre, Lauribel López Viera, Francisco González
PEN Romania, Magda Carneci
PEN Russia, Ekaterina Turchaninova
PEN Serbia, Vida Ognjenovic
PEN South Africa, Margie Orford
PEN Suisse Romand, Nguyên Hoàng Bao Viêt
PEN Sweden, Ola Larsmo, Elnaz Baghlanian
PEN Switzerland-Germany (Swiss-German Pen), Michael Guggenheimer
PEN Turkey, Zeynep Oral, Tarık Günersel
PEN Ukraine
PEN USA, Elliot Vredenburg
PEN Wales Cymru, Menna Elfyn, Owen Sheers

Hellenic Authors’ Society
Poets Circle (Greece), Dinos Siotis, Dimitris Aggelis, Elias Gris, Elsa Korneti, Yiorgos-Ikaros Babasakis
Ibn Rushd Fund for Freedom of Thought
International Writing Program – The University of Iowa
Allianz Kulturstiftung, Michael M. Thoss