‘This Week in Islamophobia‘

by Yasin Bangee

Trigger warning. This short piece will cover Richard Dawkins and his views on sexual assaults, rape and other violence perpetuated against the vulnerable.

I hate talking about Richard Dawkins. But every week he comes out with new levels of bigotry that I feel need some counter balance. The problem isn’t that many atheists shun Dawkins and his nonsense, but that there are thousands who take his word as gospel. They will defend the things he says with such ferocity it’s almost difficult to see why you bothered to challenge him to begin with.

Atheism is on the rise in the UK. Lots of people don’t have faith in God or organised religion. Faith is a personal matter, and should be left at that. I, as a person of faith, know this. Other people of faith like to bang on about God, other people on non-faith like to bang on about God. That’s the world we live in and a decent amount of discussion and disagreement is welcome.

Mehdi Hasan interviews Richard Dawkins at the Oxford Union and asks: Is religion a force for good or evil?

My issue isn’t with atheism or how religion/faith is viewed in the UK. It’s with Richard Dawkins and the type of man that he represents. A highly educated, wealthy, privileged man, he has an enormous platform which he has used successfully to present his own theories to a mass audience. The God Delusion may not be my cup of tea but there’s a market for sceptics and all the luck to them.

Playfully mocking Dawkins as some bumbling deity is the current trend and there are people who offer a brilliant caricature of the man. Again, all in good humour, all welcome.

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The problem here lies with specific views that Dawkins holds which have a malevolent undertone. And here we come to my particular issue.

East is East

A lot of old white men have recently been arrested or are being investigated and charged under Operation Yewtree, which looks at historical abuses. This is the tip of the iceberg as media stories over the last 2-3 years showcase numerous white men in positions of power raping and sexually abusing children. Richard Dawkins dismissed these instances of historical rape stating how “he can’t apply the same standards of today as to events of the past”. In other words, he was grading what he deemed sexual abuse and rape into categories of severity.

Michael Le Vell, an English actor, was recently found innocent (according to the jury) of numerous sexual assaults, including rape. Oddly, Richard Dawkins didn’t deem this worthy to comment.

Contrast with a story coming out of Yemen of an 8 year old “child bride” (not a term I would use) who died after being raped by her “husband”. Although verification of this story is doubted, that’s not the issue. Such atrocities happen across the world and the exploitation of children and women by men is sadly commonplace.

However, Richard Dawkins, a scientist who is highly educated decided it was worthy for him to comment on despite its accuracy being in question. He linked to the article in the Huffington Post, demanding if this was also racist/islamaphobic”. 

Again, the issue isn’t that he chose to highlight this particular upsetting and tragic murder but rather his motives and reasons behind doing so.

Richard Dawkins brushes off sexual assaults and rape by white men in the west as “one of those things”. That much we know from his past views. However when presented with stories from the east he’s all too quick to jump and point.

The reason Richard Dawkins is bigoted and racist is not by condemning sexual assaults and rape in the east, but by casually brushing off sexual abuse and rape carried out by white men in the west.

I’m not asking him to ignore or brush off what happens elsewhere but rather to be as vocal and as angry about what happens here too. His dismissive nature of serious crimes by white men highlights his own personal prejudices.

It’s frustrating because violent crimes don’t deserve to be appropriated to feed a white man’s hate.

Yasin Bangee is a writer based in the North West. He writes about his main passions, football, social justice and inequality, and offers thoughts on all things political. As a a British Muslim he has first hand experience of the rise and impact of Islamophobia. Archive of his column This Week in IslamophobiaFind his writing at False7andahalf

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