The Scotsman on Saturday reported on a speech by Professor Richard Dawkins at the Hebridean Book Festival at which Dawkins described Islam as “one of the great evils of the world”.
From the Scotsman:
“Renowned atheist Professor Richard Dawkins received a surprise standing ovation in the traditionally Christian community of Stornoway last night, following a two-hour speech in which he said there was probably no God.
“The 71-year-old described Islam as “one of the great evils of the world” in his lecture, The God Delusion.
“Members of the audience cheered loudly as Prof Dawkins used the appearance to attack Islam, while stressing that the “vast majority of Muslims” were not evil, only their religion was.
“Prof Dawkins said: “We are terrified of being called ‘Islamophobic’. It is a disgrace a religion prescribes death for leaving it. The vast majority of Muslims would not dream of doing that, but they are taught it in their madrassas… and it only takes a minority to put that into practice. And, as we have seen, terrible things happen.”
“A group of Christians from the Free Church handed out leaflets outside the book festival venue during the lecture “to give the other side”.
Dawkins in well known for his anti-Islam views - last year he attacked Muslim faith schools for teaching children “alien rubbish” and has previously described the face veil worn by some Muslim women as a “full bin-liner thing”.
In a previous interview, when asked why he sees Islam as more problematic than, for example, Christianity, Dawkins answered, “there is a belief that every word of the Qur’an is literally true…there’s a closed-mindedness which is…less present in the former Christendom”.
Well, other than being a rather selective reading of history – omitting mention of the Crusades and colonization – aspects of earlier Christian epochs which has displayed “closed-mindedness”, Dawkins failure to comprehend or appreciate the diversity within Islam is remarkable.
His understanding of apostasy and its ‘punishment’ in Islam is also questionable given the theological deliberations of contemporary scholars on this subject. He also appears to single Islam out, part of his claims to its “closed-mindedness” ignoring that heresy was for centuries punishable by death in many European countries.
As for his comments about many peoples’ fears of being labelled Islamophobic, as we have previously stated, “Engaging in a mutually respectful dialogue on Islam is not Islamophobia…Making gratuitously disparaging remarks about the Islamic faith, its customs and its adherents… is not the same as engaging in a respectful dialogue that increases the understanding of both sides.”
Pity Dawkins can’t appreciate his own closed-mindedness.
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