Facing uncomfortable truths

By Douglas Murray

In a recent Al-Jazeerah interview, Richard Dawkins was asked his views on God. He argued that the god of “the Old Testament” is “hideous” and “a monster”, and reiterated his claim from The God Delusion that the God of the Torah is the most unpleasant character “in fiction”. Asked if he thought the same of the God of the Koran, Dawkins ducked the question, saying: “Well, um, the God of the Koran I don’t know so much about.”

How can it be that the world’s most fearless atheist, celebrated for his strident opinions on the Christian and Jewish Gods, could profess to know so little about the God of the Koran? Has he not had the time? Or is Professor Dawkins simply demonstrating that most crucial trait of his species: survival instinct.

To answer the question, it is worth considering recent events in Denmark. In Copenhagen, on 5th February, a well-known critic of Islam – in the same way Professor Dawkins is a critic of Judaism and Christianity – narrowly survived an attempted assassination.

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Lars Hedegaard is a journalist, historian and founder of the Free Press Society. After the worldwide uproar caused by the Danish Mohammed cartoons in 2005 he became the foremost defender of the rights of Danish writers and artists to express their opinions without fear of intimidation and murder.

Since the cartoons affair there have been numerous plots by Islamist extremists to kill politicians, editors and others. On New Year’s Day 2010, one of the cartoonists, Kurt Westergaard, was visited at his home by a Somali-trained Islamist who attempted to ritually decapitate him with an axe. Westergaard escaped to the “panic room” which the security forces had installed in his house…


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