World Bulletin/News Desk
Following the Islam-related tweet which famous atheist Richard Dawkins posted on the first day of the Islamic holiday of Eid Al-Fitr, reactions were voiced against the racism and Islamophobia perceived in the message.
On the Eid holiday’s first day, Dawkins posted “All the world's Muslims have fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge. They did great things in the Middle Ages, though.”
May critical responses to the original tweet were likewise posted over Twitter, questioning the illogical assumptions of Dawkins’ comment.
Many articles in British newspaper websites were also published. Many of the articles are written by atheists who condemn the racist implications of the tweet, which Dawkins defended as merely an “intriguing fact.” The articles typically question the unsound reasoning of the comment, while also addressing how the academic success represented by the Nobel prize is more readily available in the North due to various socioeconomic conditions.
In her Guardian article, Nesrine Malik draws attention to the ultimate point behind the tweet by explaining, “what Dawkins is really trying to say, which is that Muslims as a unit throughout history have done nothing since the Middle Ages, and that is clearly attributable to their stupid religion.”
Sudanese-born Malik notes that “the painfully obvious fallacy reminded me of the task of arguing against extremist Muslim clerics when they try to denigrate non-Muslims… The same opinion with an agenda dressed up as fact.” She concludes by suggesting that Dawkins belongs with those whom he criticizes, “the irrational and the dishonest.”
A post on the Heresy Club website by Alex Gabriel asserts that Dawkins’ tweets on Islam can indeed be considered racist. The post is a response to Dawkins’ defense of himself against racism charges, through a tweet which explained that his critical comments on Islam cannot be considered racist given that Islam is a religion rather than a race. Gabriel explains that statements not focusing on race can indeed be racist, as in the case of how “Hip-hop musicians and immigrants aren’t races either, but commentary on both is very often racist – or at least, informed and inflected to a serious degree by racial biases.”
He argues, “But there are still ways to say these things that have racist subtexts and ways that don’t. There is nothing inevitable in facing a barrage of indignation from sensible people when you talk about Islam-related things.”
Garbiel’s articles include many tweets from Dawkins account regarding Islam, such as the following:
“Like Alexandria, like Bamiyan, Timbuktu’s priceless manuscript heritage destroyed by Islamic barbarians //t.co/D15gFcya Vive la France” (January 29, 2013, during France’s intervention in its former colony Mali)
“Of course you can have an opinion about Islam without having read Qur’an. You don’t have to read Mein Kampf to have an opinion about nazism.” (March 25, 2013)
In regards to a UC London debate between Laurence Krauss and Hamza Tzortzis in which females and males sat apart from one another, Dawkins tweeted on March 10, “Who the hell do these Muslims think they are? At UCL of all places, tried to segregate the sexes in debate between @LKrauss1 and a Muslim.”
Meanwhile, in the Independent, Owen Jones explores the implications of the Dawkins tweet in the midst of increasing Islamophobia in the region.
He asks: “How can comments by the likes of Dawkins really be separated from a broader context where Muslims are feared, suspected and even hated? If we were to look back at literature from 1920s Britain, would we look at statements such as “Judaism is the greatest force for evil today” and divorce them from the atmosphere of then-rampant anti-Semitism?
Martin Robbins likewise draws a comparison between Dawkins and racist currents in Europe in his article in the New Statesman by stating that “When Dawkins talks about ‘Muslim’ Nobel prizes over the years, he is not simply criticizing a religion; he is attacking a group of people in a fairly well defined geographical area, associated with a particular set of ethnicities….. In short, he is beginning to sound disturbingly like a member of the far right.”Güncelleme Tarihi: 13 Ağustos 2013, 14:07