Richard Dawkins criticised for Twitter comment about Muslims

The outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins was involved in an online Twitter row on Thursday after tweeting: “All the world’s Muslims have fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge. They did great things in the Middle Ages, though.”

 

As users piled in to criticise him, the scientist continued: “Why mention Muslim Nobels rather than any other group? Because we so often hear boasts about (a) their total numbers and (b) their science.”

 

However if one looks at what Dawkins is really saying, that Muslims as a unit throughout history have done nothing since the Middle Ages, and that is clearly attributable to their stupid religion, then one must point out that a Nobel prize is not by any means a suitable or universal enough criterion. It has only been going for a little more than a hundred years, the prizes it awards are for excellence in academic research which is far superior in western scientific and academic institutions due to the socioeconomic development of the West. Nesrine Malik for the guardian commented “The whole process of trying to parse the painfully obvious fallacy reminded me of the task of arguing against extremist Muslim clerics when they try to denigrate non-Muslims, the same momentary sense of helplessness and not knowing where to start. The same opinion with an agenda dressed up as fact. But one usually takes academics and scientists more seriously and tries to engage. With this latest salvo, I am afraid that we must consign Dawkins to this very same pile of the irrational and the dishonest.”

 

With the debate escalating, Dawkins, who has more than 777,000 followers, said: “Many are asking how many Nobels have been won by atheists. Needs research. I’d love to know. I suspect the proportion is v high, and growing.”

 

Owen Jones, the left-leaning commentator and author of Chavs, told Dawkins: “How dare you dress your bigotry up as atheism. You are now beyond an embarrassment.” Legal blogger Jack of Kent added: “Following @RichardDawkins tweet, Trinity Cambridge has presumably also produced more Soviet-supporting traitors to the UK than Islam.”

 

The row also drew in historian Tom Holland and Channel 4’s economics editor Faisal Islam who commented: “I thought scientists were meant to upbraid journalists for use of spurious data points to ‘prove’ existing prejudgements”.

 

@jptoc chipped in: “A similar (and infuriating for Dawkins) ‘fact’ is that Islam has more recipients of Nobel Prizes than Dawkins. It’s bad scientific method.”

 

But some users appeared more forgiving. @Chriss_m, said: “Dawkins spent the best part of 10 years attacking Christianity and not raising an eyebrow. He now turns that same eye on Islam and uproar.”

 

Trinity College, Cambridge, has 32 Nobel laureates, as against 10 Muslims listed in Wikipedia. When the Guardian contacted Dawkins by email to ask whether he was surprised by the uproar, he replied: “Prompted by exasperation at hearing boasts of (a) how numerous Muslims are in the world and (b) how great is their science.

 

Film about Gay Muslims Wins GLAAD Award

The film “A Jihad for Love” by American Muslim director Parvez Sharma following gay Muslim men and women in twelve countries, gas won numerous awards, and most recently received the ‘Best Documentary’ award in the GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance against Defamation) awards in March. Sharma traveled through Iran, Egypt, Turkey, India, South Africa, and others – to examine the experiences of being gay and lesbian in an “intensely Muslim community.” He consciously decided against pursuing his project in America or a Western country in which homosexuality has a markedly different experience of acceptability, but cautioned against wanting to save gays and lesbians in predominantly Muslim countries. Sharma found that many are happy where they are, and do not desire asylum, displacement, or change to a different paradigm. “We tend to assume the Western model of this GLBTQ identity. Unless there’s a pride parade you’re not really free. These ideas are way more complicated than that. Sexuality is so complex in Eastern and Islamic cultures,” he says.”

First Minister presents young Muslim awards

First Minister Alex Salmond attended the Young Scottish Muslim Awards at Celtic Park, Glasgow, which recognises the contribution the Muslim youth make to their community and Scotland. Mr. Salmond presented the award for Male of the Year to journalist Hassan Ghani, who studied at Stirling University and this year produced the widely acclaimed documentary The Disappeared.

Praising Mr. Ghani for his work, judges said: “He is a young journalist, dedicated to his profession as well as his Deen, and combining both he produced the powerful TV documentary, The Disappeared, which focused on those – up to 20,000 in Pakistan – caught in the War on Terror.”

The award for Female of the Year went to Safa Yusuf, who was described as a very active volunteer for Islamic Relief and for Muslim student associations at both Glasgow and Strathclyde Universities.

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Muslim Writers Awards recognise Britain’s literary talent

The annual Muslim Writers Awards will recognise the breadth and quality of literary talent within the UK’s Muslim community tomorrow at the ICC in Birmingham. The Awards have already attracted support from the Prime Minister, local government and celebrity advocates like Jermaine Jackson and James Caan (Dragon’s Den). The ceremony will be broadcast live to millions of viewers across the UK, Europe and the Middle East by Islam Channel. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has pledged his support for the awards, stating: “This is a wonderful opportunity to bring excellent writing by Muslim writers to new audiences, and increase the mutual understanding of the people of Britain. Through literature we can learn about disparate cultures and widen our perspectives of the world. I would like to congratulate all of the participating writers and the winners of this year’s awards.” The Muslim Writers Awards initiative is now in its second year, and is organised by Innovate Arts – a non-profit body. MWA 2008 will recognize the work of 26 writers across eight categories, with the prestigious “Writer of the Year” awards being presented by Jermaine Jackson at the glittering Awards gala.http://www.themuslimweekly.com/newsdetails/fullstoryview.aspx?NewsID=E093CE770C98BFA4A0853E30&MENUID=HOMENEWS&DESCRIPTION=UK%20News

Judges reject ‘offensive’ book to Muslims

A story based on the Three Little Pigs was turned down from a government agency’s annual awards over fears that it could be offensive Muslims. Judges rejected the digital book stating that “the use of pigs raises cultural issues”. Becta, the government’s educational technology agency, is a leading partner in the annual schools award. The book’s creative director, Anne Curtis, said that the idea that including pigs in a story could be interpreted as racism was “like a slap in the face”. The CD-Rom digital version of the traditional story of the three little pigs, called Three Little Cowboy Builders, is aimed at primary school children.