More than 80 science fiction authors are opposing the possibility of Saudi Arabia hosting the World Science Fiction Convention in 2022, saying “the Saudi regime is antithetical to everything SFF stands for”, a report in The Guardian says.
The opposition is being spearheaded by author Anna Smith Spark along with Stan Nicholls, Charles Stross among others, who have also signed an open letter, in which they say: “Saudi Arabia is known for its conservative approach with homosexuality deemed as illegal mounting to death.”
“On a personal level, we note that many of us would ourselves not be able to write or to live freely under Saudi law. We refuse to attend an event if those staffing it cannot have the same basic freedoms,” they write, in the letter addressed to the board of the World Science Fiction Society (WSFS) and the 2020 Worldcon chair. We express deep concern that many members of the SFF community would be excluded,” Norman Cates, 2020 Worldcon chair, was quoted as saying in the report.
The authors are in agreement that hosting SFF in Saudi Arabia can enable them to stand by the creative communities there but the cons are higher. “We stand in solidarity with those who seek change in the country. And we write in protest but also in hope – that by raising awareness of the political situation in Saudi Arabia a WorldCon SA will one day be possible,” the writers mentioned in the letter.
The same report quoted Yasser Bahjatt, a science fiction author who is leading the Saudi bid among others, saying: “We believe in their right to express concerns or even distaste for a WorldCon in Saudi Arabia, but demanding that we should not be allowed to even request hosting it is absurd and unhealthy for the WorldCon in the long run.”. “The WorldCon already is limited in its spread as it is mainly focused on western culture countries, and as long as it is the WorldCon, it must accept all of the world,” he added.
“This does not mean that the community should not try to make the world a better place, but merely that there is a difference between advocating for change that you believe would make the world a better place, and demanding that the world adheres to your own moral code. When such a tone is used, it is no different than the radicals on the other side,” he further said.
This year the WorldCon will take place virtually in New Zealand.
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