Atheist Richard Dawkins has outraged Muslims after describing looters who destroyed manuscripts in Mali as ‘Islamic barbarians’.The 71-year-old author of The God Delusion was referring to the severe damage caused by Islamist extremists to a sacred library in Timbuktu but his remarks were seen as insulting to all Muslims.Oxford University academic Professor Dawkins told his 600,000 Twitter followers on Tuesday: ‘Like Alexandria, like Bamiyan, Timbuktu's priceless manuscript heritage destroyed by Islamic barbarians.’
But his comments were criticised, with some followers claiming he was unjustly attacking Islam and others saying he should be considering vandalism committed by Christians, reported the Daily Telegraph.
Muslim Twitter user ‘Shawa5i Al Nasseri’ from the United Arab Emirates said: 'You call us barbarians, truly no respect', before later adding: 'How do you explain this "destroyed by Islamic barbarians?”’
Professor Dawkins responded to the comments by saying: ‘You mean you were one of those who burned the books in Timbuktu? No? I thought not. So I wasn't calling you a barbarian was I.’
He also said to all of his followers: ‘I was calling Islamic BARBARIANS barbarians’, adding: ‘By “Islamic barbarians” I mean those Muslims who are also barbarians. I do not of course mean all Muslims.’
Professor Dawkins later added: ‘Xtian (Christian) barbarians murder abortion doctors. Most Xtians (Christians) are not barbarians. Stalin was an atheist barbarian. Most atheists are not barbarians.’
'By "Islamic barbarians" I mean those Muslims who are also barbarians. I do not of course mean all Muslims'
On Monday Islamists were said to have burned down the world-famous Ahmed Baba Institute library containing priceless manuscripts and artefacts.
Timbuktu’s mayor Ousmane Halle said: ‘They torched all the important ancient manuscripts. The ancient books of geography and science. It is the history of Timbuktu, of its people.’