Richard Dawkins Issues Shameless Anti-Muslim Tweet In Wake Of #CharlieHebdo Shooting In Paris

003 Scott Brown‘Selfish Gene’ author and esteemed scientist Richard Dawkins has issued a tweet in the wake of the deadly attacks on a French satirical magazine; a most unwelcome contribution to a horrific situation.

Armed gunmen are on the run in Paris after attacking the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, leaving at least 12 people dead and many more injured.

At around midday local time, at least two masked attackers stormed the offices – armed with AK47 rifles, pump action shot-guns and according to some reports, a rocket launcher.

Images and video of the attack begin circulating on social media almost immediately, revealing the sequence of the furious attack.

One such video purports to be taken from a rooftop and shows a gun battle in the street between the attackers and local police.  In the footage, which readers are warned is extremely upsetting, a policeman falls to the ground after apparently being shot by the gunmen.  The gunmen then walk casually toward the officer, who lays prone on the ground, begging for his life – and execute him with a gunshot to the head.

While police and security services scramble to ascertain the identity and motives of the attackers, which is far from being established – Dawkins chooses to make it about a faith held by the world’s 2 billion Muslims.

It’s not his first intervention on the matter of Islam, far from it.  My personal favourite for both cruelty and ignorance was this:

004 rushThis basically makes Richard Dawkins less tolerant of religous differences than the Pope.

When a journalist attempted to draw the Pope into yet another condemnation of the world’s 2 billion Muslims on the basis of the actions of a few thousand – the pontiff responded with far greater insight.

“You just can’t say that, just as you can’t say that all Christians are fundamentalists. We have our share of them (fundamentalists). All religions have these little groups,” Pope Francis said.

With this succinct, unapologetic statement – Pope Francis has said what many of us, religious and not, have been quietly thinking for some time: Christian and Muslim fundamentalists have far more in common with each other than the rest of us.

I reported this for a US site at the time, and made a number of comparisons which hold true inside this conversation.

Was it US Muslims or Christians that lobbied against legislation outlawing spousal rape? Answer: Christians.

Virginia Republican Richard Black argued against such legislation in January 2014, stating that a woman could not be raped by her husband because she had already given consent through marriage.

Was it Muslims or Christians that used the state’s legal system to allow corporations to remove female workers’ control over their own reproductive health?  Answer: Christians.

The US Supreme Court, dominated by Christian Conservatives, upheld the rights of corporations to bar women accessing birth control through their health insurance plans.

Was it a Christian or Muslim legislator who argued a woman could only get pregnant through consensual sex?  Answer: The US Republican Party. 

In 2012, Missouri Republican Todd Akin drew ire around the world for this comment:

“It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” Mr. Akin said of pregnancies from rape. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

Was it a Christian or Muslim fundamentalist news channel  that put women on air to advise other women not to vote? Answer: Christian.

Fox News does this regularly, as in this October 2013 discussion of how married women tend to vote Republican and single women tend to vote Democratic:

“It’s the same reason why young women on juries are not a good idea. They don’t get it! They’re not in that same life experience of paying the bills, doing the mortgage, kids, community, crime, education, healthcare. They’re like healthy and hot and running around without a care in the world.”

 Ok, so maybe there’s a parallel with women…but then there’s the violence. Christian fundamentalists aren’t terrorists are they? Answer: Yes they are.

Contrary to popular opinion, most of the terrorist activity in the U.S. in recent years has not come from Muslims, but from radical Christians, white supremacists, and far-right militia groups.  Our friends at Alternet prepared an astonishing list of the 10 worst US terror attacks by Christian Fundamentalists which included:

  • Wisconsin Sikh Temple massacre, Aug 2012. white supremacist Wade Michael Page used a semiautomatic weapon to murder six people during an attack on a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
  • The Dr. George Tiller Murder, May 2009. In 1986, his clinic was firebombed. In ’93, he was shot five times by female Christian Right terrorist Shelly Shannon (now serving time in a federal prison) but survived – but in May 2009 Dr. George Tiller was shot and killed by anti-abortion terrorist Scott Roeder on May 31, 2009.  He was a victim of Christian Right terrorism, not al-Qaeda.
  • Knoxville Unitarian Universalist Church shooting, July 2008. On July 27, 2008, Christian Right sympathizer Jim David Adkisson walked into the Knoxville Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee during a children’s play and began shooting people at random. Two were killed, while seven others were injured but survived. Adkisson said he was motivated by a hatred of liberals, Democrats and gays.
  • The Centennial Olympic Park bombing, July 1996. Eric Rudolph is is best known for carrying out the Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta during the 1996 Summer Olympics—a blast that killed spectator Alice Hawthorne and wounded 111 others.  His long list of terrorist attacks committed in the name of Christianity includes his bombing of an abortion clinic in Birmingham, Alabama in 1998 caused the death of Robert Sanderson (a Birmingham police officer and part-time security guard) and caused nurse Emily Lyons to lose an eye.

Please note, this is not a conversation about which religion is best.  I’m an atheist.  But what we should not tolerate, under the guise of atheism, is good old fashioned racism. It seems to me that Dawkins doesn’t find Islam more violent than other religions because that argument is true – to which the most cursory glance at the KKK, Hindu extremists, and even the extremist Buddhists in Myanmar who continue to massacre Muslims can attest.  He does so because he has bought into a neoliberal world view that at times veers into the realms of Crusade level rhetoric.  For an atheist, and a scientist, that is astoundingly obtuse and hypocritical.

From an atheist point of view, it seems to me like God didn’t create man in his own image, but quite the opposite.  Angry people believe in an angry God, socially liberal and compassionate people see those values reflected in their God.  And bottom line, no one has ever needed a God of any kind to inflict pain and death upon each other.

The way to respond to terrorist of all kinds – those in Wahhabi strongholds, Westminster, Washington and Wall Street – is to retain our connection, stand for each other, care for each other, and hold accountable those who would tear us apart.  That starts with you and me.


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28 thoughts on “Richard Dawkins Issues Shameless Anti-Muslim Tweet In Wake Of #CharlieHebdo Shooting In Paris

  1. Wow, we’re talking about the Charlie Hebdo massacre and yet, you try to say that the issues and problems of Islam is as vile as Christianity. True, there may be ‘Christian’ terrorists, but look around you.You get KILLED for drawing a cartoon of their prophet. Does it happen when someone draws Jesus or God? I receive a monthly comic book subscription of it back in the day.

    Back then, Christianity has its issues. Christianity back then was far more different than it was today, and as such, you can see the improvement. We are allowed to contextualize the Scriptures and you don’t get killed for leaving your religion.

    Trying to hide the problems in one religion by deliberately painting others with it, is pure cowardice.

    “We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad!”

    And you’re telling me that it has nothing to do Islam?

  2. Wow, we’re talking about the Charlie Hebdo massacre and yet, you try to say that the issues and problems of Islam is as vile as Christianity. True, there may be ‘Christian’ terrorists, but look around you.You get KILLED for drawing a cartoon of their prophet. Does it happen when someone draws Jesus or God? I receive a monthly comic book subscription of it back in the day.

    Back then, Christianity has its issues. Christianity back then was far more different than it was today, and as such, you can see the difference. We are allowed to contextualize the Scriptures and you don’t get killed for leaving your religion.

    Trying to hide the problems in one religion by deliberately painting others with it, is pure cowardice.

    “We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad!”

    And you’re telling me that it has nothing to do with Islam?

  3. I think a bigger issue is the generalization of one and all to pigeon hole all religions and to blame them for the worlds woe’s when I would suggest it is mankind who tries and has been trying since the beginning (how ever you think that may have occurred) to control thinking, blame everyone else, whether they be from the next house street, town country, religion political leaning or race for everything that is going wrong or may go wrong or will go wrong. It is human nature, and we are still falling for it. In truth the majority of Muslims and Christians are all praying for peace. What has been done (in violence) in the name of Islam has no more -and probably a lot less- to do with their faith than what the Crusaders did in the name of Christ. But it doesn’t stop there, Non religion has had its turn as well, Hitler Stalin etc. It is people not Faith that carry out these atrocities what ever Flag they fly, only Killing in the name of Peace is just a little harder to swallow, and it is people that that will always blame their neighbor and his (different) views instead of loving them and trying to understand the differences..

    Even the Author at top (and I love what she is trying to say through this website) has failed just pointing a general finger, do not blame the name but the person under it. It is enough to start on the world leaders in the West and capitalist societies, rather than swiping at a large amount of good people and possible allies. remember division is their tool, not ours.

    • You are right in as far as the core problem is human stupidity, irrationality, whatnot, with religion just being one specific manifestation (and not always and necessarily a harmful one). However, the net effect of religion is almost certainly negative, religion is strongly based on fraud (often of the type self-fraud) and prevention of clear thought, and in many cases, as with some islamistic groups at the moment, it is very harmful and destructive. Yes, we should be careful about condemning the individual members of a religion; no, we should not defend religion (in general) or Islam (in particular).

      As an aside, I have long been fascinated by the U.S. situation, where (unlike those European countries I am familiar with) the major parties are all saturated with stupidity, convinced of their righteousnes, intellectually dishonest, …—and apparently unable to understand that they are themselves as bad as their opponents. Yet, it is exactly the same inability (or unwillingness) to think and reason that leads to e.g. Christian Conservatism and Political Correctness. (In Europe, while politicians tend to be opportunists of disputable competence whatever party they belong to and voters remain broadly speaking uninformed and unintelligent, the above problems are disproportionally common among the parties on the Left. This might be because the European political spectrum is generally shifted leftwards compared to the U.S., making the question one of extremism.)

  4. Pingback: No, I’m really not Charlie Hebdo | Stop Making Sense

  5. I suggest a bit of research on the web: the Paris shooting has many hallmarks of a ‘Gladio’ style ‘False Flag’, though they will undoubtedly come up with Muslim ‘Patsies’.
    Check this very short slow-motion picture of the policeman being ‘shot’; no blood, no body recoil. It looks very staged to me:

  6. Thought experiment/challenge for you:

    Suppose a divine supreme being, forgoing the usual practice of not interfering with free will, makes a once only offer to end a religion. They will instantly convert all followers/believers etc. of one religion to another (or no religion) and you get to choose.

    a) Which religion would you choose to end, if any?
    b) Which religion, if any, would the converts go to?
    c) Why those choices?

  7. Scriptonite, thanks for your thoughts on this, in an article by Truthout yesterday an important point was raised about who we conveniently remember to label as terrorists, strange how forgetful the media are about white and right wing shootings:

    Oh, and Andrew Turvey here is what the UK state church ‘authorised’ under so-called Christianity in the last century, a hundred years of wars ‘On Remberance Day’ :

    (That kind of Christianity has nothing to do with Jesus’ message of love, compassion and understanding.)

    Strange how countries carved up and economically raped by imperialists find it hard to liberate themselves especially when they are under systems supported by those imperialists, checking out how the Saudi regime and other jihad groups came to power would be helpful.

    I would also add that the use of the convenient label “war” also does strange things to the mind. Once ‘authorised,’ then killings, some on mass by the military using many methods including their unarmed drones is no longer considered terrorism. Nor are the people who make a healthy profit out of selling their murdering technology considered terrorists, very disturbing how simple words can neuter the conscience

  8. “most terrorist activity has come from Christians and far right groups”

    Yeah sure of course, assuming you conveniently exclude 9/11 from your statistics of course

    • You obviously haven’t looked into who was really responsible for 9/11. I suggest you start with the website ‘Patriots Question 9/11’.

  9. For some reason, the tweet is not displayed in my browser. However, even without knowing the details, some remarks are still possible:

    o Dawkins has in the past been extremely criticial both of Christianity and of religion in general. If (!) Dawkins does have a degree of intolerance towards religious differences, it is dwarfed by his (understandable) immense dislike of religions as a general phenomenon.

    o Looking at the current world, there can be little doubt that Islam is at this point of time the worst of the major religions. The least condemning judgment that is possible would be that it is the religion with the greatest number of (in some sense) evil believers. (Leaving the possibility open that it is not necessarily the most evil religion. Certainly, the extremists of any of the major religions are not representative of the whole.) Isis alone outweighs all your examples. Historically, this need not always have been the case, but I honestly doubt that even Christianity does worse in accumulation than pre-20th century Islam. (It might if we look at e.g. some specific individual centuries.)

    o Most of your article appears to have very little to do with the ostensible topic, but instead looks like a cherry-picking attack on Christianity—which effectively leaves you, yourself, commiting the sin of one-sidedness of which you accuse Dawkins. You also, yourself, commit the sin of assuming motives, where some of the points you mention are not necessarily of a Christian nature, but of right-wing Republican, morally conservative, or similar, nature.

  10. I wonder how many respondents here have actually read the Koran (in translated paraphrase of course).
    It is EXTREMELY violent, in fact even worse than the Old Testament. It is not so bad for Jews and Christians,
    as people of the book, they just pay more taxes (unless the fundamentalists are running things). But followers of any other, or no religion are fair game for forced conversion or death. Just look at those poor folks in Syria and thereabouts. They outwardly cover up their womenfolk etc, but they follow a pre Christian (or Islam) religion.
    It all stems from one terrible decision that Mohammed made, “Do I base my new religion on Christianity or Judaism”, he picked Judaism. So now you know why the two religions have so many similarities in doctrine,
    even if the Jews are much less aggressive about conversions!

  11. Ok so Richard Dawkins has said that not all religions are equally violent. And he was right, no question. When is the last time you heard of a buddhist fundamentalist?

    “Dawkins chooses to make it about a faith held by the world’s 2 billion Muslims.”
    I’m sorry but given that the magazine published pictures of the prophet Muhammad and that witnesses heard the attackers shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ it’s kind of obvious that these murders were committed in the name of Islam. To say that Richard Dawkins who made this about Islam is laughable, clearly the terrorists made this about Islam. What they did is clearly justified by multiple verses in the quran like it or not, and if these violent verses are simply misinterpreted spiritual metaphors I would advise muslims to pray to Allah for a more clearly worded 2nd edition.

    “This basically makes Richard Dawkins less tolerant of religous differences than the Pope.”
    No sorry it doesn’t. Dawkins is no less vehement in his criticism of Christianity. I don’t understand how religious differences come into the discussion. Dawkins has simply pointed out a fact. A surprising fact that people would rather not hear.

    Muslim Nobel Laureates – 11
    Trinity College Cambridge Nobel Laureates – 32

    Oh sorry I’ve pointed that fact out too! I must also be displaying “cruelty and ignorance”. You do realise the irony of saying that a statement of fact is an ignorant thing to say?

    Interestingly if unexpectedly you went on to discuss the idiocy of both Christians and Republicans, can’t disagree with any of that.

    • 1. I specifically reference Buddhist extremists in the piece.
      2. You could pick myriad groups who have fewer nobel prizes between them than Trinity college graduates, as evidenced here.

      Unless you are able to support, with evidence, that all religions except Islam have abandoned violence – which is what Dawkins asserts, and you are defending – then you need to reconsider your opinion. By all means, do produce this evidence. If not, I’m unclear what you’re disagreeing with me over.

      • Where does Dawkins assert all religions except Islam have abandoned violence? I don’t believe he is a fan of any religion, albeit reserving some particular scathing for the most violently proselytising one currently.

    • Good points. I also take issue with this quote from the piece: “But what we should not tolerate, under the guise of atheism, is good old fashioned racism.” Is being Muslim now a race? I thought it was a religion! It’s ridiculous to accuse Richard Dawkins of racism when he is clearly discussing religion.

      • Some races are clearly defined by their religion – Arabs, most North Africans and the Gulf States are composed of such races.

  12. Very disappointing tweets by Richard Dawkins. I think religion is evil but I don’t see how you can say Islam is worse than Christianity. The one about Trinity College just sounds snobbish and makes him sound unaware of the socio-economic issues surrounding academic achievement.

    With regard to Jorge Bergoglio, I don’t think we should pander to him and his sexist, power-hungry club by using his private club name of Pope Francis any more than we should call someone Grand Wizard or whatever they decide they want to be called.

    • He is talking about religions TODAY. Can you honestly say that Christianity TODAY is more violent than Islam TODAY? That is his point.

      As for the tweet about Trinity College, it may sound snobbish to you but it happens to be true. It is a sad fact that the Muslim world has stagnated in intellectual (and especially scientific) terms for hundreds of years. Christendom managed to liberate itself from the stranglehold of religion from the Renaissance period onwards. The Islamic world is still waiting for its Renaissance.

      • >> Can you honestly say that Christianity TODAY is more violent than Islam TODAY?

        No; because both Christianity and Islam are too diverse to suffer such silly generalisations. The violence of Orthodox Christian fascists in Greece, Russia and Ukraine at the moment is very serious and intimidating, for example, as are the examples Scriptonite cites in the piece above of Christian terrorists in the US. Of course, your racism doesn’t extend to Christians, so you have no problem understanding that it would be unfair to ask liberal Methodists to answer for these crimes.

      • The US (often in conjunction with NATO and others) has killed far more people in the last 100 years; are the US and NATO Muslim States?
        The US has been invading and taking over (or ‘selecting’ local ‘Uncle Tom’s’ to run things for them, ever since it’s inauguration as a Republic.
        Some 500,000 children died due to sanctions alone in Iraq. Good ‘ole, peace lovin’ ‘Christians’ (although as a Christian, I know they are NOT Christians, but Luciferians in reality).

  13. So is Richard Dawkins factually correct, or incorrect, in this particular case? Please show your evidence that violence is as high in Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism – or take your pick! – compared to Islam?

    Just dismissing this as Islamophobic doesn’t cut the mustard.

    • Asking Scriptonite to demonstrate that violence is *as* high among followers of other religions is an impossible evidentiary standard; how the hell would you quantify it and how would you discern how much of that difference was due to religion and how much to other factors? Dawkins claims in his tweet that ‘some religions’ (i.e Xianity if you know Dawks) gave up violence centuries ago. If this were the case we would expect political/religious violence from Christians to be negligible, and impossible to justify within Christianity, both of which are demonstrably false.

      The only possible explanation for why Dawkins keeps talking such demonstrable twaddle, is that he is a colossal bigot.

    • people seem to take as a ‘given’ that the ‘Charlie Hebdo’ ‘attack’ was carried out by Muslims, rather than being just another run-of-the-mill, common-as-muck Western ‘False Flag’ operation. Cui bono?
      Ask a (truthful) military guy what happens to a man’s head when he is shot from a few feet away with an AK47; or better still, show him the video clip of the policeman lying on the ground, being ‘shot in the head’.
      And one of the ‘Muslim Attackers’ ‘accidentally’ dropping his ID in the car? Bit like the 9/11 ‘Hijacker’ ‘accidentally’ tossing his passport out of the plane window just before impact, so it could be ‘found’, unscorched and pristine, in the WTC dust.
      LBJ LIED about the non-existant ‘Gulf of Tonkin Attack’ on the Maddox and Turner Joy (proved by declassified documents – it never occurred – but LBJ got his massive escalation of the war!); Pearl Harbour was NOT a surprise to FDR & Co., they new Japanese Task Force was on the way, but DIDN’T WARN PEARL (see ‘Day of Deceit’, Robert B. Stinnett – but FDR got his ‘entry card’ into WWII!); Kuwait ‘Incubator Baby LIE’ – (but G Bush Sr. got his Kuwait intervention!); how many ‘False Flag’ or lying cons can they pull off, and people still ‘don’t get it’?

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