Richard Dawkins clock
Richard Dawkins is facing backlash on social media after the atheist author questioned whether 14-year-old Texas student Ahmed Mohamed may have “wanted the police to arrest him” by bringing a clock to school last week.
“Did he deliberately want to be suspected of making a bomb? Did he want to be arrested, to be seen as a victim of ‘Islamophobia’?” Dawkins wrote on Twitter on Sunday.
“If so, Texas police played right into his hands and most of us (including me) fell for it.”
Mohamed was arrested after a homemade, digital clock he brought to class to impress his teacher last week was mistaken for a bomb.
The teen’s arrest drew accusations of Islamophobia, and spawned a hashtag, #IStandWithAhmed, in solidarity with the 9th grader. U.S. President Barack Obama invited Mohamed to bring the clock to the White House and Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield invited him to attend his science show in Toronto at the end of October.
Of course that didn’t stop Dawkins from sharing YouTube videos and blog posts that accused Mohamed of being a “fraud” for not actually inventing the clock he brought to school, but re-assembling one instead.
As a British writer and scientist who authored best-selling book, The God Delusion, and promotes scientific knowledge and “a secular worldview” through his foundation.,, he regularly speaks out against religion, but has been accused in recent years of singling out Islam for criticism.
People quickly responded angrily to Dawkins’ comments, accusing him of missing the point of what happened to Mohamed and of being skeptical of the teen’s motives simply because he is Muslim.
Funny how you all search for the so called facts and hidden agendas ONLY when its (sic) about Muslims,” one Twitter user said. “This is the saddest thing I’ve seen you write, and I have bought almost every book you’ve written. Come on,” said another.
“Software is made from bought components. Legos are bought components. The kids who assemble them are still engineers,” another user commented.
Dawkins appeared to backtrack as more criticism came in throughout the day, saying that Mohamed “should most certainly NOT have been arrested,” and casting doubt on the police’s motives for arresting him.
“If the authorities really thought it might be a bomb, why did they not evacuate the building? Casts doubt on their motive for arresting him,” he wrote.
“I’m not putting down the child. I’m putting down myself & the rest of us for being fooled. And the police for arresting him for nothing,” he said.
But Dawkins has continued to question Mohamed’s credibility.
On Monday morning, Dawkins shared an article by infamous, far right-wing website Breitbart News Network, regularly accused of Islamophobia, that peddled the same accusations.
The article accused Mohamed of lying about inventing the clock and said the entire story was an example of “Islamic supremacism and the threat it poses to us all.”
“If we think we’re being hoodwinked, ignore age, colour etc & ignore ‘the company we keep.’ Simply ask ‘Is it TRUE?’” Dawkins wrote.
The story has been picked up by right-wing commentators in the U.S., including Sarah Palin, who wrote on Facebook: “Right. That’s a clock, and I’m the Queen of England.”
Bill Maher, meanwhile, said it was not surprising that a teacher would think the boy’s clock was a bomb “because for the last 30 years it’s been one culture (Islam) that’s been blowing things up over and over again.”
“Somebody look me in the eye right here and tell me, over the last 30 years, if so many young Muslim men – and he is young, 14, but… not that it’s never happened before – hasn’t blown a lot of s–t up around the world,” Maher said on his show, Real Time with Bill Maher.
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