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British-Pakistani writer Mohammed Hanif withdraws from German conference in protest

Hanif withdrew in protest against the disinvitation of Palestinian poet and activist Mohammed El-Kurd

Mohammad HanifThe author announced his own withdrawal from the conference as a mark of protest on Tuesday. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The withdrawal of an invitation to Palestinian poet and activist Mohammed El-Kurd from a conference organised by Goethe Institute in Hamburg, Germany, has drawn a sharp reaction from British-Pakistani writer Mohammed Hanif, who announced his own withdrawal from the conference as a mark of protest on Tuesday.

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In a tweet, Hanif, author of Red Birds (2018), Our Lady of Alice Bhatti (2011), A Case of Exploding Mangoes (2008), wrote, “Withdrawing from @goerheinstut’s Hamburg conference where they first invited and then disinvited Palestinian journalist and poet Mohammed El Kurd. Reason is even more offensive. Apparently Kurd is not respectful enough towards Israel. How do you say bugger off in German?”

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Scheduled to be held from June 23 to 26, the “Beyond the Lone Offender – Dynamics of the Global Right” summit intends to “focus on the impact of far-right movements and their global entanglements.” In a series of tweets on June 17, the Goethe Institute in Hamburg announced its decision to disinvite El-Kurd. “After some consideration, the Goethe-Institut decided that Mohammed El-Kurd was not an appropriate speaker for this forum: in previous posts on social media, he had made several comments about Israel in a way the Goethe-Institut does not find acceptable…”

Reacting to the withdrawal and announcing his own decision to boycott the conference, Hanif wrote in another tweet, “Mohammed El Kurd’s house was taken over by settlers when he was elven (sic). Kurd and his sister Muna have been protesting since they were children. Haven’t read much Goethe but I don’t think he wanted the world to be respectful towards a ruthless apartheid regime.” Hanif was supposed to speak on the “dynamics of right-wing structures” at the conference.

The 24-year-old El-Kurd, who lives between New York and Sheikh Jarrah, an occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood where Palestinians face forcible expulsion, has been raising his voice against the violence against his people over the years. El-Kurd has studied poetry at the Savannah College of Art and Design, in Georgia, US, and is pursuing an MFA in poetry at Brooklyn College. He is currently the Palestine Correspondent for The Nation. RIFQA, his debut collection of poetry, was published by Haymarket Books in 2021. El-Kurd and his twin Muna were also featured in the Time 100 List last year for challenging “existing narratives about Palestinian resistance through viral posts and interviews, humanising the experiences of their neighbours and pushing back against suggestions that violence was being predominantly carried out by Palestinians.”

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First published on: 22-06-2022 at 01:29:04 pm
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