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JK Rowling accuses Chocolat novelist Joanne Harris of 'betrayal'

JK Rowling accuses Chocolat novelist Joanne Harris of ‘betrayal’ as she hits back at the Society of Authors chair who is accused of mocking her with ‘tasteless’ Twitter poll about death threats

  • JK Rowling tweeted support for Sir Salman Rushdie in the wake of his stabbing in New York last Friday
  • But 57-year-old Harry Potter author then received this response: ‘Don’t worry, you are next’
  • Society of Authors chair Joanne Harris was accused of mocking her with Twitter poll about death threats
  • Rowling said she was ‘startled’ to learn of Harris’ remarks and Harris has not expressed ‘sympathy for her’
  • She said she has not helped women being ‘silenced and intimidated’ on gender beliefs and ‘betrayed’ them 

JK Rowling has accused Chocolat novelist Joanne Harris of ‘betraying’ female writers after the Society of Authors chair posted a ‘tasteless’ Twitter poll about her death threats. 

Harris, who faces calls to resign, posted on social media following an ‘online threat’ made to Rowling which police are investigating.

The Harry Potter author had been tweeting her support for Sir Salman Rushdie in the wake of his stabbing on Friday when she received the response from someone online saying: ‘Don’t worry, you are next’.

Harris, 58, who has been critical of women who have been outspoken on the trans debate, like the best-selling author, then wrote: ‘Fellow-authors… have you ever received a death threat (credible or otherwise).’ 

The response options by the novelist were ‘Yes’, ‘Hell, yes’, ‘No, never’ and ‘Show me, dammit’, suggesting scepticism about how serious the threats were.

Rowling told the Times: ‘I was startled to read this [..] as I’ve received no communication whatsoever from Harris expressing sympathy for the death and rape threats I’ve received.’ 

She added that women, who disagree with Harris on gender identity, feel ‘betrayed’ by her for not showing ‘solidarity’ in her capacity as chair of the Society of Authors after being ‘silenced and intimidated’ over their beliefs. 

JK Rowling (pictured in April 2018 at premiere) has accused Chocolat novelist Joanne Harris of ‘betraying’ female writers after the Society of Authors chief posted a ‘tasteless’ Twitter poll about her death threats

Joanne Harris, 58, wrote in the poll: ‘Fellow-authors… have you ever received a death threat (credible or otherwise)’

The poll was later deleted by Joanne Harris, who replaced it with an alternative version shown above

Harris (pictured in March 2017), 58, who has been critical of women who have been outspoken on the trans debate, like the best-selling author, =wrote: ‘Fellow-authors… have you ever received a death threat (credible or otherwise).’

She said that Harris ‘consistently failed’ to defend female authors like Rachel Rooney and Gillian Philip who disagreed ‘with her personal position on gender identity ideology’. 

And claimed Rooney and Philip suffered ‘severe personal and professional harm’ after they challenged ‘a fashionable ideology which has been remarkably successful in demonising those who protest against the current attack on women’s rights’.

Rowling added: ‘Harris has consistently failed to criticise tactics designed to silence and intimidate women who disagree with her personal position on gender identity ideology and has said publicly, “Cancel isn’t a dirty word. We habitually cancel things we no longer want”. 

‘I find it impossible to square the society’s stated position on freedom of speech with Harris’s public statements over the past two years and stand in solidarity with all female writers in the UK who currently feel betrayed by their professional body and its leader.’ 

Writer Julie Bindel said it was ‘disgustingly inappropriate’. And novelist Simon Edge described the poll, which was later deleted and replaced with an alternative version, as ‘indefensible’ and said it’s ‘high time’ the Chocolat author stepped down.

But in response to another critic on Twitter, Harris said: ‘I don’t hate JK Rowling, and have never said or implied as much.’

The death threat came from an Iran-supporting Islamic extremist called Meer Asif Aziz, based in Karachi, who described himself on Twitter as a ‘student, social activist, political activist and research activist’.

He has also made tasteless ‘jokes’ about how to destroy Israel and branded it a Vladimir Putin-savaged Ukraine – as well as Pakistan’s chief geopolitical rival India – ‘terrorist states’.

The 57-year-old Harry Potter writer had expressed her horror at the sickening attempt on Sir Salman’s life in upstate New York when she was sent the threat on Twitter.

She also revealed that after reporting the vile threat to Twitter, the social media network responded decided that the extremist did not violate the rules.

The email from Twitter read: ‘After reviewing the available information, we determined that there were no violations of the Twitter rules in the content you reported. We appreciate your help and encourage you to reach out again in the future if you see any potential violations.’ 

Rowling posted a screenshot of the response, commenting: ‘These are your guidelines, right? ‘Violence: You may not threaten violence against an individual or a group of people. We also prohibit the glorification of violence… ‘Terrorism/violent extremism: You may not threaten or promote terrorism’…’

Writer Joanne Harris (left) was accused of mocking JK Rowling (right) with a ‘tasteless’ Twitter poll about death threats

The Harry Potter writer said on Twitter: ‘Horrifying news. Feeling very sick right now. Let him be ok’. She received the chilling reply: ‘Don’t worry you are next’

The Harry Potter writer had expressed her horror at the sickening attempt on Sir Salman’s life in upstate New York when she was issued with the threat on Twitter

Meer Asif Aziz describes as a ‘student, social activist, political activist and research activist’ based in Karachi

Aziz also appears to support the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who frequently rants about Israel in deranged, genocidal tweets. In one of Khamenei’s posts about the ‘oppressive Yazidis’, for instance, Aziz responded with a heart emoji. 

And responding to another tweet from the Iranian dictator, Aziz gushed: ‘Dear leader your struggle for Islamic world will not be wasted until we young generation are with you’. 

Rowling had posted about Sir Salman’s stabbing: ‘Horrifying news. Feeling very sick right now. Let him be ok’.

Aziz, who had described Sir Salman’s alleged attacker Hadi Matar, 24, as a ‘revolutionary Shia fighter’, then threatened: ‘Don’t worry you are next’. 

After sharing screenshots of the threatening tweet, Rowling said: ‘To all sending supportive messages: thank you Police are involved (were already involved on other threats).’

A Police Scotland spokesman said: ‘We have received a report of an online threat being made and officers are carrying out enquiries.’

Hadi Matar, 24, has been charged with the attempted murder and assault of author Salman Rushdie. Pictured arriving at Chautauqua County Courthouse in Mayville, New York, on Saturday

Bosses at Warner Bros Discovery (WBD), the entertainment company behind the film adaptions of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series, said they ‘strongly condemn’ the threats made against the author.

A spokesman for the media conglomerate added: ‘We stand with her and all the authors, storytellers and creators who bravely express their creativity and opinions.

‘WBD believes in freedom of expression, peaceful discourse and supporting those who offer their views in the public arena.

‘Our thoughts are with Sir Salman Rushdie and his family following the senseless act of violence in New York.

‘The company strongly condemns any form of threat, violence or intimidation when opinions, beliefs and thoughts might differ.’

Rowling is among the authors and notable faces who have voiced their dismay after Sir Salman’s stabbing.

The Indian-born British author, whose writing led to death threats from Iran in the 1980s, was to deliver a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution, 65 miles from Buffalo in New York state, when he was attacked.

Matar being escorted from the stage as people tend to author Sir Salman at the Chautauqua Institution kast Friday

On stage at the lecture theatre: Sir Salman Rushdie is seen on the left at the the Chautauqua Institution in Buffalo, New York

British-American writer Aatish Taseer said, in a since-deleted tweet, the 75-year-old was ‘off the ventilator and talking (and joking)’, which was then confirmed by the author’s agent Andrew Wylie.

Mr Wylie had earlier said Sir Salman was using the ventilator and could lose an eye after sustaining injuries to his arm and liver.

The man accused of stabbing him, 24-year-old Hadi Matar of Fairview, New Jersey, pleaded not guilty on Saturday to charges of attempted murder and assault, in what a prosecutor called a ‘pre-planned’ crime.

In a family statement posted on social media yesterday, Sir Salman’s son Zafar Rushdie said: ‘Following the attack on Friday, my father remains in critical condition in hospital receiving extensive ongoing medical treatment.

‘We are extremely relieved that yesterday he was taken off the ventilator and additional oxygen and he was able to say a few words.

Blood was spattered on the wall behind where Sir Salman had been attacked, with some also seen on a chair. New York State Police confirmed that Sir Salman was stabbed in the neck

Law enforcement officers detaining Sir Salman’s suspected attacker Hadi Matar outside the Chautauqua Institution

‘Though his life changing injuries are severe, his usual feisty & defiant sense of humour remains intact.

‘We are so grateful to all the audience members who bravely leapt to his defence and administered first aid along with the police and doctors who have cared for him and for the outpouring of love and support from around the world.

‘We ask for continued patience and privacy as the family come together at his bedside to support and help him through this time.’

In 2020, 58 writers, journalists and actors signed a letter in the Sunday Times in support of Rowling, condemning the ‘onslaught of abuse’ she had received after expressing her views on gender.

Three days later, Miss Harris was among more than 200 figures who published a statement in support of trans and non-binary people and their rights.

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