Target: Richard Dawkins
Goal: Thank Richard Dawkins for advocating for a more nuanced analysis of the conflicts in the Middle East
In the past, Richard Dawkins, a prominent public intellectual and longtime critic of organized religion, has particularly taken issue with Islam and the violence it has allegedly engendered in the Middle East. Recently though, his stance on Islam and conflict seems to have softened and he has finally acknowledged the complexity of the issue. Commend Dawkins for beginning to reject the reactionary Islamophobia he had propounded previously.
Dawkins has argued in the past that Islam and religion are the reasons the Middle East experiences so much violence, communicating what many would consider to be Islamophobia. Of course, the violence in the Middle East is a much more complex issue than just the rhetoric of extremist Islam; political, social, historic, economic, and religious contexts all converge to engender conflict in any region. In a recent interview, Dawkins appears to have begun to abandon his religious absolutism and acknowledge this complexity. Discussing the rise of ISIS, he acknowledged that these conflicts are about more than just religious ideologies: “I think that quite a large number of young Muslims feel kind of beleaguered against the rest of the world.”
The analysis of leading scholars theorizes that religion is merely how ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and other terrorist groups in the Middle East frame their political grievances. Dawkin’s recent comments reflect a progressive refinement of his views on Islam, the Middle East, and the conflicts there, where before there had been only Islamophobia. Sign this petition below to encourage Dawkins to continue to advocate for a more nuanced analysis of the relationship between conflict in the Middle East, politics, and Islam.
Dear Mr. Dawkins,
In the past you have been an advocate for what many would consider to be Islamophobia, and seemed to place blame for conflicts in the Middle East and the existence of terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda solely at the feet of the entire religion of Islam. It is with great surprise and pleasure, then, that you seem to have softened your stance recently. I applaud your change and encourage you to continue to recognize that these conflicts and organizations are motivated more by politics and power differences than by any sort of inherently evil religion.
In a recent interview, you conceded that the existence of ISIS is more a political phenomenon than a religious one, acknowledged the motivations of young Muslim men who feel “beleaguered against the rest of the world” that ISIS and similar organizations take advantage of through the use of religious narratives, and said that religion is merely a pretext for the political conflicts these organizations create. The fact that you are now echoing what many scholars have said is extremely encouraging and reflects a departure from your problematic, Islamophobic analyses of the past.
I am commending you for your change of heart, and encouraging you to continue to advocate for analyses of ISIS and conflict in the Middle East that do not reductively lay the blame right at the feet of Islam as a religion, but that recognize the inherent political origins, motivations, and goals of these organizations and conflicts.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Spellcast via Wikimedia Commons