Actor and screenwriter Steve Coogan has criticized Hamas for what he describes as their “horrific and brutal” invasion of Israel while also defending his endorsement of a letter advocating for humanitarian assistance to Gaza.
More than 2,000 artists, including Oscar-winning actress Tilda Swinton, Game of Thrones star Charles Dance, and Harry Potter actress Miriam Margolyes, have supported the open letter written by Artists for Palestine UK.
The letter calls for an “immediate ceasefire and the opening of Gaza’s crossings to allow humanitarian aid to enter unhindered” and urges governments of the signatories to “end their military and political support for Israel’s actions.”
However, there has been pushback from individuals who argue that the letter should have explicitly condemned the Palestinian militant group, Hamas.
In a statement provided to the PA news agency, Steve Coogan said, “I just want to make sure that is correct, and I do of course condemn the recent Hamas terrorist attacks on Israel; their deliberate murder of civilians and their taking of hostages. All right-thinking people do.”
He went on to say, “The Jewish people have been uniquely the target of hate and prejudice for millennia, and anyone who cares about human rights should be vigilant and call it out when they encounter it. It goes without saying that what Hamas did is evil beyond imagination. It was horrific and brutal. It is in no way inconsistent with condemnation of the Hamas atrocity to express grave concern for the lives and welfare of innocent Palestinian civilians facing a humanitarian disaster, deprived of food, water, medicine, fuel, and shelter.”
In a statement to X (formerly Twitter), Outlander star Sam Heughan admitted that he “inadvertently” signed the letter and clarified that it does not reflect his “beliefs.” Heughan stated, “I believed it was a simple call for peace… It wasn’t. I condemn violence in any form. I stand against terrorism and evil and am heartbroken and appalled by the recent horrific actions by Hamas. It’s haunting to the core, my heart goes out to all affected.”
He also expressed his desire to learn more about the conflicts in the Middle East and his hope for compassion for all those affected. He concluded by saying, “Peace and love to you all. X.”