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Pierre Joris & Nicole Peyrafitte Read in Support of Ashraf Fayadh
Pierre Joris and Nicole Peyrafitte joined a growing chorus of voices in support of the Palestinian poet, Ashram Fayadh, who has been sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia. Joris is a Visiting Professor at Boise State University and Peyrafitte is a professor in the English Department at Boise State University, where this reading took place. Via The Arbiter Online:
Visiting professor, Pierre Joris, walked up to the stage of the small Hatch A room in the SUB while Nicole Peyrafitte, professor in the English department, sang and banged an animal skin drum in support of Palestinian poet, Ashraf Fayadh. As the room fell silent, Joris read the official statement of the worldwide reading for Fayadh.
“The International Literature Festival Berlin (ILFB) calls on all individuals, institutions, schools and media outlets that care about justice and freedom to participate in a worldwide reading in support of Ashraf Fayadh,” Joris read. “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.”
Fayadh was arrested on Jan. 1 and sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia, his country of residence, for renouncing Islam—otherwise known as ‘apostasy’—in his poetry. On Thursday, Jan. 14, places around the world joined together to honor him.
According to the ILFB’s statement, Fayadh believes his poetry to be “just about me being a Palestinian refugee—about cultural and philosophical issues. But the religious extremists explained it as destructive ideas against God.”
Joris explained when regimes disallow their citizens the freedom of speech they take away the necessity of communication within civilization.
“With poetry we talk and share things with our communication—something that is community oriented,” Joris said. “A Nigerian nobel prize winner, Wole Soyinka, who defined the premise on which regimes such as Saudi Arabia base their legitimacy said this: ‘I am right, you are dead.’ Let us do everything we can to contradict and oppose this lethal ideology.”