Amazon is funding a legal challenge against US president Donald Trump's controversial "travel ban" on behalf of its employees in the US and around the world who could be affected.
The e-commerce company's chief executive Jeff Bezos told employees in an email he directly opposed the executive order, temporarily barring entry to the US for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, and that the company would be supporting Washington state's suit to challenge it. He promised "the full extent of Amazon's resources are behind you", reported The Independent.
"We're a nation of immigrants whose diverse backgrounds, ideas, and points of view have helped us build and invent as a nation for over 240 years," read the email. "No nation is better at harnessing the energies and talents of immigrants. It's a distinctive competitive advantage for our country — one we should not weaken."
US publishers Penguin Random House and Hachette Book Group are offering to pay half its employees’ membership fees to PEN America, a move followed by Publishers' Weekly. Hachette Book Group's c.e.o. Michael Pietsch observed that this was a time "where free speech is especially important”. Trump promised in the run-up to the election to curb press freedoms, which organisations like PEN America seek to defend. PEN America also runs an "M Word” programme highlighting Muslim-American writers to further promote free speech.
Thousands in London and other cities across the UK meanwhile rallied in response to Penguin author and columnist Owen Jones' call for an emergency protest outside Downing Street yesterday evening (30th January), including Orion fiction publishing director Clare Hey, bestselling Picador author of the Muse Jessie Burton and her agent Juliet Mushens, among others from the literary community.
Russell Bennett, editor of literary intellectual online magazine Berfrois and organiser of Writers Resist London, an event held for London writers to protest "any slide into fascism" in the United States ahead of Trump's inauguration, criticised prime minister Theresa May's response to the ban he told The Bookseller was "divisive" and "repugnant".
"I am heading to tonight's demo to protest aginst Theresa May's craven response to Donald Trump's recent executive order. His travel ban is divisive, repugnant and plan wrong-headed. Instead of holding hand with the president, May should be explaining the Geneva Convention. One phone call from Angela Merkel is not enough for this dumbnut," he said.
Ayisha Malik, author of Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged (twenty7), tweeted: "If you ever despair for humanity, take a look at the pics from around England today of people protesting #Trump and #NoBanNoWall. God love you".
The Establishment author Jones' #StandUpToTrump demo followed an anti-Trump petition, calling for the president's UK state visit to be cancelled, which has now surpassed the one and a half million mark.
Other authors making a stand include former children's laureate Malorie Blackman, who tweeted over the weekend she would not be visiting the US to attend its literature festivals "any time soon" while the ban was in place, and Nikesh Shukla, editor of The Good Immigrant (Unbound), who has been leaving copies of the essay collection examining race and immigration in and around Brooklyn with writer Chimene Suleyman.
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