By Elle Hunt and Michael Safi, The Guardian
The scientist and leading atheist faces a barrage of criticism after posting comments on Twitter about the Muslim teenager
Richard Dawkins has sparked a wave of criticism after appearing to draw a tenuous link between Ahmed Mohamed, the Texas Muslim teenager whose homemade clock was mistaken for a bomb, and a child forced by Islamic State militants to behead his victim.
Dawkins tweeted a link to an International Business Times report on a video posted to YouTube that appears to show a child of about ten being forced by Isis fighters to decapitate a Syrian regime army officer early on Wednesday morning.
“‘But he’s only a kid.’ Yes, a ‘kid’ old enough to sue for $15 million those whom he hoaxed,” tweeted Dawkins.
Then after a paragraph break, as though the question had occurred to him just before he went to click “Tweet” – “And how old is this ‘kid’?”
Dawkins was referring to Mohamed’s family’s demanding $15 milion in damages — $10 million from the city of Irving, and $5 million from the school district — and an apology after the 14-year-old was arrested in September, when his homemade clock was taken for a bomb.
“No. Just fed up with people saying of the click [sic] hoax boy, ‘He’s only a kid’, as though that means he can’t be criticized.”
In subsequent responses, he clarified that the two were “comparable in NO other respect than that they are both young”, and that he “[didn’t] hate Muslims”.
Dawkins has expressed skepticism about Mohamed’s “motives” before, tweeting in September that his questioning of “a boy’s alleged ‘invention’” was part and parcel of his “passion for truth.”
He reiterated this complaint on Wednesday, conceding that though it was a clock, not a bomb, Mohamed “didn’t make it. He took it out of its case and pretended he had made it”.
But he denied holding any “special animosity” against the teenager: “No, I just want to alert the gullible fools who fell for his scam. And STILL fall for it even after his $15 million demand!”
He expanded to another user that “kids can do the indefensible”.
Dawkins appeared to grow frustrated by the repeated requests for clarification, likening it to the time his remarks about Mein Kampf were misinterpreted by “numpties.”
“I suppose I should by now have got the measure of the IQ to be found on Twitter,” he replied to another user.