Dawkins calls Mali book burners ‘barbarians’; moderate headbangers throw hissy fits

‘By “Islamic barbarians” I mean those Muslims who are also barbarians. I do not of course mean all Muslims.’-- 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’

By 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.’

Comments: Richard Dawkins said Timbuktu's manuscript heritage was 'destroyed by Islamic barbarians'
Comments: Richard Dawkins said Timbuktu’s manuscript heritage was ‘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 the 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.’  (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.

Union president Ben Kentish 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.


8 thoughts on “Dawkins calls Mali book burners ‘barbarians’; moderate headbangers throw hissy fits”

  1. Am waiting for parliament to issue a booklet to every household in britain advising us what we can say and what we can’t, along with penalties for incorrect speech. This of course to be enforced by continual propogranda from al-bbc!

  2. Quantum physics shows we haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of reality – so Dawkins is also delusional in his fanatical following of scientism. Imagine what cosmology will be like in 3000 years time. But I would MUCH rather have the company of one educated, intelligent person like Richard Dawkins than 1,000 utterly delusional muslims.

  3. Dawkins reminds me of a child that has a lifelong hatred of Christianity because he feels deceived that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny are not real. As a determined spiritual seeker he can’t see the world any other way than through the prism of his own worldview, which again is that of the white British gentleman from another era.

    Yes, his company is definitely much preferable than that of a muslim; although I find him overrated, mildly naive and like you said, barely able to scratch the surface.

  4. Dawkins uses plain speech in a world of semantic ignoramuses.

    “Books were burned by dark haired savages” does not imply that all people with dark hair are savages. Just that these savages were dark haired.

    As we have said before, providing safe houses for the wifes of women-beaters does not imply that all men are women beaters. Somehow though, providing safe houses for muslim women does?

    Time to tell these morons to learn English. And no this does not imply that all people are morons, only those who criticize a language they understand imperfectly.

  5. If you’ve ever read Richard’s books and or watched his videos, you might understand where he’s coming from.

    What the hell is “scientism”, Hamid? You probably don’t even know. You’re limited understanding of what he “follows” only reveals your ignorance. “Scientism” is a contrived word by those who have little knowledge or understanding of science. He doesn’t follow “scientism”, he is a scientist. Don’t get your inability to go past belief and faith mixed up with science.

    Sheik, seriously? C’mon, you can do better than that.

    The only weakness I see in Richard is that he’s too polite. The only reason Richard says more about Christianity is because that’s what he knows more about. But, he is coming along on Islam. I’ve seen videos where he’s put imams in their place and make them look like the crybabies they are. I think he gets it, but he has to also be careful in the UK because some asshole will file charges. Richard also has a lot of pretend atheist followers, which means that they are just mostly young brainless liberals who’ve bought in to the Islam is wonderful scenario and are deathly afraid of being seen as racist and similarly afraid of losing their self-righteousness to reality. By definition, an atheist cannot revile Christianity or Judaism and defend Islam. That should be plain to anyone.

    Although I know many of you here are religious, we must keep in mind that people like Richard, Jerry Coyne (who’s coming along), Dan Dennett, Sam Harris, formerly Christopher Hitchens and many others who are actual atheists are enormous assets and colleagues in this fight against Islam. The way they see the world isn’t necessarily the same as many anti-Islamists, but their influence is huge and their clear mindedness on the issue is beyond compare. They all catch sh*t from some of their whiny followers about Islam, but that’s going to happen until they’re all educated.

    1. “Sheik, seriously? C’mon, you can do better than that.”

      Hmm, I’ll try. But I must say I’m no fan. I haven’t read his books and I can’t be bothered. I have seen him a few times in TV presentations and debates and I wasn’t impressed.

      I guess I’m too much of a ‘bitter clinger’, trying to understand my religion….

  6. ‘Scientism’ denotes an over-reliance on science, and is associable if not synonymous with ‘scientific materialism’. Richard Dawkins is of course a scientist by education (as am I) but I very much fear that he has left the true scientific spirit behind. He is of course now quite widely, and justifiably, regarded as a fundamentalist. It is often stressed how open-minded scientists are, how open to evidence contrary to any accepted theory. Anyone who believes this should read ‘Science at the Crossroads’ by Herbert Dingle. He had published two books on relativity, and was regarded as an expert on the subject; then realized something was wrong, and started asking a simple question of various eminences, and was soon no longer regarded as an expert, but rather as a heretic damned. If the physics establishment can be so solidly wrong (don’t swallow the standard rebuttals), what is the scope in the case of biology? A biological undergraduate wishing to have a career would do well to avoid any open criticism of Darwin, let alone betraying a vitalist attitude.

    I suppose we spiritually-inclined types will have to accept strange if temporary allies, even atheists, when it comes to Islam….

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