• An evening with Richard Dawkins and Mehdi Hasan

    Just back from my old alma mater, where Richard Dawkins was being interviewed by Mehdi Hassan for Al Jazeera English.  Hassan is one of those classic ‘moderate Muslims’.  All self-pity and “why don’t you like Islam?” in public, in private… See for yourself:


    I had a good opportunity because they allowed questions.  So I stood up and quoted the man’s words back at him, and asked whether he thought that was an acceptable form of behaviour.  The expression on his face, watching the little toad shrivel inside, has made my life worth living once more.  Unfortunately, I believe that al Jazeera may just cut my question out before it airs.

    Sadly, due to the set up of the room, Dawkins did not hear the quote.  I take comfort in the fact that a significant portion of the room did, and applauded.  Moral of the evening: never, ever be afraid to speak up, you cannot be sure how many people are waiting for you to do so.

    Overall, the evening highlighted Richard Dawkins’ major limitation.  Dawkins seems to assume honesty and rationality on the part of everyone he speaks to; that if someone is asking a question, they are looking to learn something, and that if the questioner is misrepresenting Dawkins’ words, it’s due to misunderstanding.  He seems to be unaware that people like Hassan can be deliberately dishonest.

    Classic example, Hassan brought up the question of the ‘atheist’ wars of the twentieth century.  Well, as he is perfectly well aware, the last Jihad called by the last Caliph of the Ottomans was the First World War (on the side of Imperial Germany), during the Second World War, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem allied openly with Hitler (who was a great admirer of Islam), and the Nazi party was widely admired by the founders of both the Muslim Brotherhood and the Ba’ath party.  Mein Kampf (in the new title “My Jihad”) is a roaring best-seller in the Islamic world.  Who does this man think he’s kidding?  Answer: anyone who grants him the presumption of honesty.

    Mehdi Hassan pulled all the usual party tricks, including the classic one of self-righteously citing Koran 5:32, the one that goes

    For that cause We decreed for the Children of Israel that whosoever killeth a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoso saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind.

    And naturally, he left out the very next verse that goes:

    The only reward of those who make war upon Allah and His messenger and strive after corruption in the land will be that they will be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off, or will be expelled out of the land. Such will be their degradation in the world, and in the Hereafter theirs will be an awful doom;

    See for yourself.  Nothing academic in that verse, by the way; Mohammed Siddiqui quoted it, when he wrote from a yorkshire Mosque to The Independent to explain why Rushdie needs to be killed.

    And so on. It’s a damned shame that Dawkins doesn’t study all this stuff as carefully as he does evolutionary biology, and also that he cannot seem to understand that people can choose to be dishonest.


    Category: Uncategorized

    Article by: The Prussian