Author, biologist and New Atheist Richard Dawkins took to Twitter to sound off on religion after the attack on France's satirical weekly publication, Charlie Hebdo.
Three masked gunmen stormed the Charlie Hebdo offices in central Paris Wednesday, killing 12 people. Four of the slain were cartoonists for the publication, known for its controversial illustrations lampooning political and religious figures, including Islam's Prophet Muhammad. People who witnessed the Paris attack said that the gunmen allegedly shouted "We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad" and "God is Great" in Arabic, according to the BBC.
Charlie Hebdo's satirization of Islamic figures over the years has resulted in backlash and threats against the paper. In 2011, its Paris office was firebombed after it published an issue that jokingly said it had been "guest edited" by the Prophet Muhammad.
Dawkins on Wednesday took aim at violence and religion in tweets to his 1 million followers.
They shouted “We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad.”
http://t.co/BPrWhiJidL Some useful idiot will claim it had nothing to do with religion.
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) January 7, 2015
No, all religions are NOT equally violent. Some have never been violent, some gave it up centuries ago. One religion conspicuously didn’t.
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) January 7, 2015
In his Twitter bio, Dawkins writes that he "[t]reats all religions with good-humoured ridicule." While he is a noted critic of all faiths, Dawkins has faced backlash from Al-Jazeera, The Guardian and Salon for rhetoric perceived to be Islamophobic.
After the Taliban massacred 132 schoolchildren in Peshawar, Pakistan, in December, Dawkins also tweeted about religion and violence.
Mental illness can drive a lone nutter to it. But an organised group needs an extreme motivation – faith, in something like a god or nazism.
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) December 17, 2014
Muslims around the world have condemned the attack on Charlie Hebdo. France's Grand Mosque of Paris, one of the largest in the nation, posted a statement on its website, reading:
We strongly condemn these kind of acts and we expect the authorities to take the most appropriate measures. Our community is stunned by what just happened. It’s a whole section of our democracy that is seriously affected. This is a deafening declaration of war. Times have changed, and we are now entering a new era of confrontation.
The Council for American-Islamic Relations echoed a similar sentiment.
"We strongly condemn this brutal and cowardly attack and reiterate our repudiation of any such assault on freedom of speech, even speech that mocks faiths and religious figures," Executive Director Nihad Awad said in a statement sent to The Huffington Post. "The proper response to such attacks on the freedoms we hold dear is not to vilify any faith, but instead to marginalize extremists of all backgrounds who seek to stifle freedom and to create or widen societal divisions."
The gunmen involved in Wednesday's attack remain at large and have not yet been identified.
01/09/2015 11:02 PM EST
Pro-Israel Rally In Amsterdam Scrapped
A pro-Israel rally set for January 11 in Amsterdam was "postponed because of the current situation in Paris," the organizers Holland4Israel announced. A new date for the event was not given.
01/09/2015 9:24 PM EST
Prosecutor Reveals Details From Sieges
Paris prosecutor Francois Molins revealed more details of the siege that killed the Kouachi brothers and Amedy Coulibaly, the Telegraph reports.
- The brothers had a loaded M82 rocket launcher, two Kalashnikov machine guns and two automatic pistols.
- Coulibaly had a Kalashnikov assault rifle, a Skorpion military pistol.
"On the body of one of the terrorists, the demining teams also found a grenade that had been positioned as a trap," Molins said.
01/09/2015 9:16 PM EST
Police Continue Search For Possible Accomplice
French police continued to search for Hayat Boumeddiene, a 26-year-old woman who is suspected of being an accomplice in the Paris attacks, ITV reports.
As of early Saturday morning, Boumeddiene is believed to still be on the run. She is a suspect in the killing of female police officer in Paris on Thursday, and is thought to have been the girlfriend of Amedy Coulibaly, who was killed by police on Friday.
01/09/2015 9:09 PM EST
'Paris is Charlie' Projected On Paris' Arc De Triomphe
01/09/2015 8:23 PM EST
Hacktivist Group Anonymous Vows Revenge For Charlie Hebdo Attack
Hacktivist group Anonymous released a video in which it states that it will shut down jihadist websites to avenge the Charlie Hebdo attack.
01/09/2015 8:20 PM EST
Prosecutor: Brothers Extensively Coordinated With Other Suspects
Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said that the Kouachi brothers had spoken on the phone more than 500 times with Amedy Coulibaly and his girlfriend Hayat Boumedienne, prior to the Paris attacks, the Guardian reports.
Both the Kouach brothers and Coulibaly were killed in dual sieges on Friday.
01/09/2015 8:15 PM EST
Memorial Outside Charlie Hebdo Offices In Paris
Pens, flowers, a flag, and a bottle of wine. Vive la France... pic.twitter.com/6MBaXWHkjd— Mark MacKinnon (@markmackinnon) January 10, 2015
01/09/2015 6:14 PM EST
Footage Of French Raid On Terror Suspects In Dammartin
France's National Gendarmerie released footage of its special forces raiding the printing house in Dammartin-en-Goele where the two Charlie Hebdo attack suspects were holding a person hostage.
The National Gendarmerie also released a picture of the hostage, with their face blurred, being led to safety after the raid. Both of the suspects were killed.
01/09/2015 5:44 PM EST
Yemen Launches Investigation Into Al Qaeda Link To France Attacks
Yemen's Spokesperson in Washington Mohammed Albasha writes on Twitter that Yemen has launched an investigation into possible connections between Al Qaeda's branch in the country, and the attacks in France.
01/09/2015 5:37 PM EST
Al Qaeda In Yemen's Statement On The Attacks
Al Qaeda's Yemen branch released an audio statement on the attacks in France, after a member of the group told the Associated Press they had "directed" the assault on Charlie Hebdo.
Soon after, the branch's senior cleric Sheikh Harith al-Nadhari issued a recording on the group's Twitter feed commenting on the "blessed raid on Paris." He denounced the "filthy" French and called them "the heads of infidelity who insult the prophets." He praised the "hero mujahedeen" who he said "taught them a lesson and the limits of freedom of speech."
Al-Nadhari stopped short of directly claiming responsibility for the attack, but added, "How can we not fight those who hurt our prophet, slandered our religion and fought the faithful."
Addressing the French, he said, "It better for you to stop striking Muslims so you can live in peace. But if you only wish for war, then rejoice, you will not enjoy peace as long as you wage war on God and his prophets and fight Muslims."
It was not immediately clear why al-Nadhari did not outright said al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula was behind the attack. The member told the AP that the group as delaying its official declaration of responsibility for "security reasons."