Richard Dawkins hits back at allegations he is Islamophobic after Berkeley event is cancelled

Comes after resurfacing of old tweets

Caroline Mortimer
Wednesday 26 July 2017 09:13 BST
Richard Dawkins insists he has never criticised Islam - but a 2013 said it was the 'source of all evil'
Richard Dawkins insists he has never criticised Islam - but a 2013 said it was the 'source of all evil' (Getty)

The controversial scientist and writer Richard Dawkins has hit back at claims of Islamophobia after a US radio station cancelled his appearance.

The evolutionary biologist was due to address an event hosted by KPFA Radio in Berkeley, California in August, but the station cancelled due to what they said was “abusive speech against Islam”.

In an email to people who purchased tickets to the event, published on Mr Dawkins' website, the organisers said: “We had booked this event based entirely on his excellent new book on science, when we didn’t know he had offended and hurt – in his tweets and other comments on Islam, so many people.

“KPFA does not endorse hurtful speech. While KPFA emphatically supports serious free speech, we do not support abusive speech. We apologise for not having had broader knowledge of Dawkins views much earlier.”

Although the radio station isn’t affiliated with University of California, Berkeley, local media reported it had been alerted to Mr Dawkins’ tweets about the religion earlier – including a 2013 tweet saying “Islam is the greatest force for evil in the world today”.

But in an open letter to the organisers Mr Dawkins insisted he “never used abusive speech against Islam” and instead his harsh comments were directed at “IslamISM” (sic) – a political interpretation of the religion often used to justify extremism.

He said: “I have criticised the ridiculous pseudoscientific claims made by Islamic apologists (“the sun sets in a marsh” etc), and the opposition of Islamic “ scholars” to evolution and other scientific truths.

“I have criticised the appalling misogyny and homophobia of Islam, I have criticised the murdering of apostates for no crime other than their disbelief.

“Far from attacking Muslims, I understand – as perhaps you do not – that Muslims themselves are the prime victims of the oppressive cruelties of Islamism, especially Muslim women.

“I am known as a frequent critic of Christianity and have never been de-platformed for that. Why do you give Islam a free pass? Why is it fine to criticise Christianity but not Islam?”

The author is known as an outspoken critic of religious belief – in 2006 the wrote The God Delusion which castigated faith-based explanations for the universe saying evolutionary theory was superior and atheism was evidence of intelligence.

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