Following the sentencing on Wednesday of Matthew Bridges, the Society of Authors has been asked by several members whether it would support a boycott of the Dubai Literary Festival.
At a meeting of the Society of Authors’ Management Committee on 22 November, our elected Board confirmed unanimously that the SoA believes that it is for individual authors to decide whether they choose to take part in any festival or event.
Commenting, Society of Authors CEO Nicola Solomon said:
We support the decisions of our Council member Antony Beevor and others who have withdrawn in protest from the Dubai Literary Festival – an act that sends a statement to the festival organisers, and to the regime. We will of course support the choice of other authors who follow his example.
However, we will also support those authors who still choose to participate in the festival, many of whom would argue for the necessity of continued engagement and dialogue for precisely the same reasons that others would withdraw.
The Society of Authors represents more than 10,500 members, with a broad a spread of backgrounds, belief systems and approaches to life. For all their differences, they have one thing in common: choice. We celebrate that choice and individual judgment.
We would not therefore call for a boycott of the Dubai Literary Festival.
We urge Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and the British Government to do everything within their power to find a swift resolution to Matthew Hedges’ situation.
Members may wish to sign this petition, started by Matthew Hedges’ wife Daniela Tejada-Venegas.