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Jury Rescinds Kamila Shamsie’s Nelly Sachs Prize Over Her Support For Pro-Palestinian Movement

The German city of Dortmund has taken back its decision to award the Nelly Sachs Prize to British Pakistani author Kamila Shamsie due to her support of the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

The Nelly Sachs Prize is meant to honour literary contributions and is awarded every two years along with a case prize of 15,000 euros. This year, the prize, which is named after a Jewish poet, was awarded to Kamil Shamsie.

However, the prize, which was awarded to Kamila on September 6, was rescinded following a decision by an eight-member jury. The decision was based in Kamila’s support of the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, a campaign that proposes various forms of boycott of the state of Israel.

A statement released by the jury said, “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 added, “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.”

Reacting to the decision, Kamila Shamsie said that it was saddening to witness a prize being withdrawn from someone who was exercising their freedom of expression and conscience by protesting against the brutality of Israeli government.


The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement was started in 2005 by Palestinians to generate international pressure on Israel for its actions in Palestine. The movement is supposedly modelled n the anti-apartheid campaign in South Africa in the 1980s.


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