‘By “Islamic barbarians” I mean those Muslims who are also barbarians. I do not of course mean all Muslims.’--Â Richard Dawkins
‘A priceless heritage destroyed by Islamic barbarians': Atheist Professor Dawkins outrages Muslims with comments over Mali extremists wrecking library
- Richard Dawkins’s tweet about library in Timbuktu, Mali, causes offence
- Some of his 600,000 followers say professor was unjustly attacking Islam
- Later clarifies he ‘does not of course mean all Muslims are barbarians’
ByÂ Mark Duell
Atheist Richard Dawkins has outraged Muslims after describing looters who destroyed manuscripts in Mali as ‘Islamic barbarians’.
The 71-year-old author of The God Delusion was referring to the severe damage caused by Islamist extremists to a sacred library in Timbuktu but his remarks were seen as insulting to all Muslims.
Oxford University academic Professor Dawkins told his 600,000 Twitter followers on Tuesday: ‘Like Alexandria, like Bamiyan, Timbuktu’s priceless manuscript heritage destroyed by Islamic barbarians.’
But his comments were criticised, with some followers claiming he was unjustly attacking Islam and others saying he should be considering vandalism committed by Christians, reported theÂ Daily Telegraph.
Muslim Twitter user ‘Shawa5i Al Nasseri’ from the United Arab Emirates said: ‘You call us barbarians, truly no respect’, before later adding: ‘How do you explain this “destroyed by Islamic barbarians?”’
Professor Dawkins responded to the comments by saying: ‘You mean you were one of those who burned the books in Timbuktu? No? I thought not. So I wasn’t calling you a barbarian was I.’
He also said to all of his followers: ‘I was calling Islamic BARBARIANS barbarians’, adding: ‘By “Islamic barbarians” I mean those Muslims who are also barbarians. I do not of course mean all Muslims.’ Â (Daily Mail has more
‘Priceless heritage': Some of the 20,000 preserved ancient Islamic manuscripts which rest in air-conditioned rooms are displayed at the Ahmed Baba Institute in Timbuktu, Mali (file picture)
People in the city reported that there was no malicious destruction of any library or collection, said the University of Cape Town, which helped fund a state-of-the-art library to house manuscripts.
‘They torched all the important ancient manuscripts. The ancient books of geography and science. It is the history of Timbuktu, of its people’
Ousmane Halle, Timbuktu’s mayor
The Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks claimed last year that a ‘profoundly anti-Semitic’ comment in Professor Dawkins’s The God Delusion likened God portrayed in Jewish texts to a fictional villain.
But Professor Dawkins said he was ‘anti-God’ rather than ‘anti-Jewish’ and claimed the allegation from Lord Sacks was ‘ridiculous’.
Meanwhile, Professor Dawkins and former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams will debate the role of religion in the modern world at the Cambridge Union Society tonight.
UnionÂ presidentÂ Ben KentishÂ said it should be a highlight of the debating society’s 200-year history. ‘Our speakers are the most renowned commentators on this subject,’ he added.