On Friday’s Real Time, Bill Maher and Richard Dawkins, a famed evolutionary biologist and atheist, took swings at the Muslim faith.
“[Maryam Namazi] was going to speak, but like so many people have at universities she was disinvited because she’s ex-Muslim and was just speaking her mind,” Maher said. “But apparently that’s hate speech in this world.”
Maryam Namazi is an ex-Muslim atheist who has spent much of her life criticizing the Islamic faith.
“After having overcome fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism, the world now faces a new totalitarian global threat: Islamism,” said Namazi in a 2006 manifesto. Namazi signed the manifesto in response to the Muslim riots that broke out across the world in reaction to the 12 cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed that were published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.
Namazi was scheduled to speak at Warwick University’s Atheist Union, but the university’s student government had the invitation rescinded over fear she’d incite hate of religion, said Namazi in a blog post.
This isn’t the first time Maher has been angered over how a college campus treated an anti-Muslim activist. In 2014, Maher said, “Islam is the problem,” when discussing how Brandeis University rescinded anti-Muslim activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s honorary degree.
Namazi’s ousting by Warwick University’s Student Union is another example of “anti-free thought” on college campuses, said Dawkins in a blog post last month. Dawkins expressed similar feelings to Maher.
“Campuses all over the western world, America and Britain, are denying people the right to come and speak,” said Dawkins, who recently published a defense of atheism in his new book, Brief Candle in the Dark. “If you can’t speak your mind at a university campus, where can you?”
“This notion that Islam and Muslims are somehow this protected species,” Maher said. “That if we talk about them at all, or criticize them at all, it’s somehow hurting or humiliating Muslims is ridiculous.”
Dawkins nodded, adding that Muslims are incorrectly thought of as a race, which is why those who criticize Muslims are wrongly considered racists. Viewing critics of Islam as racists has shielded the Muslim faith from criticism, Dawkins said.
“It’s confused with racism as well, because an incredible amount of people think Islam is a race,” Dawkins said. “In the case of Islam, it’s given a free pass. I think it’s because of the terror of being called racist.”
“Or at worse: an Islamophobe,” Maher said. “A silly word that means nothing.”
Maher and Dawkins have both been accused of being Islamophobes even though they’re liberals and have progressive social views, Maher said. The women’s movement, civil rights, gay rights, and trans people like Caitlyn Jenner are all things he’s been for, Maher said.
Maher sparked outrage in August when he placed the photo of One Direction singer Zayn Malik, a Muslim, next to Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and asked, “Where were you during the Boston marathon?”
AlterNet’s CJ Werleman wrote in 2014 that Maher is Islamophobic and wrong in thinking that suicide bombers are motivated by religion because studies show that 95-percent of terrorist attacks are motivated by politics.
“Then if you say something about a woman who’s forced to wear a beekeeper’s suit in the hot sun all day,” said Maher as he put up his hands in frustration.
“Oh, that’s their culture you have to respect it,” Dawkins said to Maher.
Dawkins has been lambasted for saying Islam is one of the greatest evils in the world today. “I think Islam is the greatest force for evil in the world today. I’ve said so, often and loudly,” he tweeted in 2013.
He also once said Islam is an “unmitigated evil” in a now-deleted blog post, which dangerously implies that all Muslims are evil, wrote anti-Muslim watchdog Loonwatch.
Dawkins’ comments led to a peculiar agreement between “uneducated” anti-Muslim bloggers Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer and an educated anti-Muslim, Salon wrote.
“[Islam] is the one exception, blabber about everything else, but then there’s this one exception. Its their culture,” Dawkins said to Maher. “Well, to hell with their culture.”
Watch Dawkins and Maher below, courtesy of HBO.
[Image via screengrab]