Richard Dawkins Responds to Charlie Hebdo Attacks, Denounces Islam as a 'Violent Religion'

( [email protected] ) Jan 09, 2015 12:09 PM EST
Richard Dawkins
Richard Dawkins is a professing atheist and the author of 'The God Delusion.' Photograph: Murdo Macleod/The Guardian

Atheist author Richard Dawkins recently stated that Islam is more violent than other religions following the attack of Islamic extremists on France's satirical weekly publication, Charlie Hebdo.

"No, all religions are NOT equally violent. Some have never been violent, some gave it up centuries ago. One religion conspicuously didn't," tweeted Dawkins.

"Of COURSE most Muslims are peaceful. But if someone's killed for what they drew or said or wrote, you KNOW the religion of the killers," he added.

On Wednesday, three masked gunmen stormed the Charlie Hebdo offices in central Paris, killing twelve people. Four of those murdered were the editor and cartoonists for the satirical publication, known for its controversial depictions of religious figures, including Muhammad, the prophet of Islam. The attackers reportedly yelled "We have avenged the prophet Muhammad" and "Allah is Great" in Arabic, reports BBC.

Charlie Hebdo's satirization of Islamic leaders has previously led to threats against the publication; in 2011, the office was firebombed after the magazine published an issue claiming to be "guest edited" by Muhammad.

As of Friday, the three gunmen believed to be connected to the terrorist attack were killed in a police operation, CNN reported. 

Some, like Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times, have warned against blaming the attacks in its entirety on Islam, arguing that the gunmen are part of a minority extremist sect that doesn't represent the entire religion. "Terror incidents lead many Westerners to perceive Islam as inherently extremist, but I think that is too glib and simple-minded," he wrote. "Small numbers of terrorists make headlines, but they aren't representative of a complex and diverse religion of 1.6 billion adherents.

However, in his Twitter remarks, Dawkins asserted that the notion that the attacks had nothing to do with religion is ridiculous.

"They shouted 'We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad...[but] some useful idiot will claim it had nothing to do with religion," tweeted Dawkins.

"The God Delusion" author has previously sparked outrage for his comments regarding Islam. In 2013, Dawkins used the phrase "Islamic barbarians" to describe a group in Mali that damaged a historic library.

"Some people (perhaps 1st language not English) think I was calling ALL Muslims barbarians. No. I was calling Islamic BARBARIANS barbarians," he later explained.  

Meanwhile, France's president, Francois Hollande, has called for a national day of mourning to remember the 12 victims in connection to the Charlie Hebdo massacre.

"Nothing can divide us, nothing should separate us," said Hollande. "Freedom will always be stronger than barbarity. France has always known how to defeat its enemies when it has known how to defend its values. Let us be united and we shall triumph."