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Issue 286, Friday 22 February 2013 - 12 Rabi' al-Akhar 1434

Outspoken atheist scholar makes ‘Islamic barbarians’ remark on twitter

By Amirah Hussain

Evolutionary biologist, author and atheist, Richard Dawkins, offended Muslims everywhere last month when he described Saharan arsonists as “Islamic barbarians”.

A self-described ‘militant atheist’ Dawkins made the remarks on January 29 after an Al-Qa’ida affiliated fighters seized and set alight two buildings in Timbuktu housing priceless manuscripts, some of which dated back to the 13th century.

“Like Alexandria, like Bamiyan, Timbuktu’s priceless manuscript heritage destroyed by Islamic barbarians”, tweeted Dawkins.

Dawkins tweet was met with an influx of angry complaints with one twitter user asking: “Isn’t referring to people as Barbarians a little ethnocentric and nasty?”, while another chimes in, “Best thing abt [sic] @RichardDawkins’ racist comment is how incredibly ignorant it is. w/o Islamic science Europe wd [sic] still be in dark ages.”

Dawkins was forced to explain his tweet not “an attack on all Muslims by saying “By ‘Islamic barbarians’ I mean those Muslims who are also barbarians. I do not of course mean all Muslims!”

Dawkins outburst is the latest in a series of disparaging remarks about Islam. During a lecture November last year he referred to Islam as “one of the great evils of the world”. Other faiths have also been slammed. In his book, The God Delusion, likened the God portrayed in Jewish texts to a fictional villain.

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