If there’s one thing Richard Dawkins is known for, it’s criticizing religion. The world-renowned evolutionary biologist and atheist author has made a name for himself through his writings and debates against apologists of various faiths.
But recently, “The God Delusion” author received unprecedented pushback from a California radio station who took issue with Dawkins’ “abusive speech” against Islam, Heat Street reported.
KPFA, a radio station in Berkeley, California, announced last week that it has cancelled its August event featuring Dawkins, who was set to discuss his new book, “Science in the Soul: Selected Writings of a Passionate Rationalist.”
The station explained its decision in an email to ticket buyers, which Dawkins posted on his website:
We regret to inform you that KPFA has canceled our event with Richard Dawkins. 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 goes on to note that while it “emphatically supports serious free speech,” it does not endorse “hurtful” or “abusive” speech.
“We apologize for not having had broader knowledge of Dawkins views much earlier,” the email concludes.
In a statement released by the Center for Inquiry, Dawkins called the allegations that he engaged in “abusive speech” against Islam “preposterous.”
“I have indeed strongly condemned the misogyny, homophobia, and violence of Islamism, of which Muslims — particularly Muslim women — are the prime victims. I make no apologies for denouncing those oppressive cruelties, and I will continue to do so,” Dawkins said.
In the wake of the cancellation, Dawkins penned an open letter to KPFA, accusing the station of unjustly “de-platforming” him:
My memory of KPFA is that you were unusually scrupulous about fact-checking. I especially admired your habit of always quoting sources. You conspicuously did not quote a source when accusing me of “abusive speech”. Why didn’t you check your facts – or at least have the common courtesy to alert me – before summarily cancelling my event? If you had consulted me, or if you had done even rudimentary fact-checking, you would have concluded that I have never used abusive speech against Islam. I have called IslamISM “vile” but surely you, of all people, understand that Islamism is not the same as Islam. 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.
Dawkins added that he has never received such backlash for his “frequent” criticisms of Christianity.
“Why do you give Islam a free pass?” he demanded. “Why is it fine to criticise Christianity but not Islam?”
So far, the station has not responded to Dawkins’ letter.