A public radio station in Berkeley, California, canceled a fundraiser and discussion with Richard Dawkins, the scientist, author and outspoken atheist, calling his comments on Islam “abusive speech.”
Dawkins was scheduled to discuss his new book, “Science in the Soul: Selected Writings of a Passionate Rationalist,” at the August 9 event, to which tickets were sold as part of a fundraiser for the station, KPFA.
But the public station said it decided to cancel the event after members of the Berkeley community brought Dawkins’ remarks on Islam to their attention.
“The speech we reviewed included assertions during his current book tour that Islam is the ‘most evil’ of world religions, Twitter posts denigrating Muslim scholars as non-scholars and other tweets,” the station said.
“We serve a broad and diverse community, including many Muslims living under threat of persecution and violence in the current political context,” KPFA said. “Islamophobic rhetoric stokes that threat. While Mr. Dawkins has every right to express his views, KPFA has every right not to sponsor and profit from an event spreading them.”
The public station, which is not affiliated with the University of California at Berkeley, said it has offered Dawkins the opportunity to discuss the matter on the airwaves “where his assertions can be engaged and challenged.”
Dawkins, in response, accused the radio station of not checking its facts or contacting him about the cancellation.
“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,” Dawkins said.
Instead, he has criticized Islamism, the scientist said, a term used to describe political movements that seek to implement Islamic law and theology.
“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 continued.
Dawkins, whose best-seller, “The God Delusion,” attacks all forms of organized religion, also questioned why KPFA had not seemed to mind his anti-Christian remarks.
“I am known as a frequent critic of Christianity and have never been de-platformed for that. Why do you give Islam a free pass? Why is it fine to criticize Christianity but not Islam?”