Poetry News

Ashraf Fayadh Honored With PEN Canada One Humanity Award

By Harriet Staff
Ashraf Fayadh

For the past two years we've been reporting on the plight of Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh, who was arrested and sentenced to death by Saudi Arabia in 2015 for denouncing Islam and insulting the King. Yesterday, we heard the good news that Fayadh has won PEN Canada's One Humanity Award, an award given by the organization to a writer “whose work transcends the boundaries of national divides and inspires connections across cultures.” A little more about the award and Fayadh's struggles at Arabic Literature (In English):

The award, which provides the winner $5,000 CAD, “honours PEN’s commitment to literature as a common currency between nations, and as a catalyst for mutual understanding and respect.”

Fayadh, who is also a visual artist, released the collection Instructions Within in 2008. It was the summer of 2013 when he was first arrested, after a complaint was submitted to the Saudi Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prohibition of Vice, thought to of originated because of an argument in a café, a moment beautifully imagined by playwright Hassan Abdulrazzak in “The Several Beheadings of Ashraf Fayadh.”

Fayadh was re-arrested on New Year’s Day, 2014 on charges that included the spread of atheism, insulting the King, and refuting the Qur’an, evidence of which was allegedly found in Instructions Within.

Fayadh's original sentence was overturned in 2016; however, the poet now faces an eight year sentence and 800 lashes. Read the full prize press release here.

Originally Published: October 18th, 2017