Richard Dawkins reluctantly concedes Islam can’t be blamed for the actions of terrorist organizations like ISIS

Richard Dawkins: Religion isn’t the problem in the Middle East

The new atheist reluctantly concedes Islam can’t be blamed for the actions of terrorist organizations like ISIS

Richard Dawkins: Religion isn't the problem in the Middle East Richard Dawkins (Credit: Reuters/Chris Keane)

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

AlterNetIs Richard Dawkins changing his tune on Islam and terrorism? In a recent interview with Russia Today, the evolutionary biologist and noted atheist was questioned about the Islamic religion and its ties to ISIS and just how much responsibility it bears in the brutal beheadings carried out by the terrorist group. Dawkins said:

“Religion itself is not responsible for this… It’s also this feeling of political involvement. It’s a feeling that it’s ‘us against them.’ And I think that quite a large number of young Muslims feel kind of beleaguered against the rest of the world. And so religion in some sense might be just an excuse, but I do think that a dominant part of the motivation for these young men has to be religion.”

Dawkins’ statement is a huge divergence from the opinions of atheists like Sam Harris and Bill Maher, who continue to claim that religion is the primary motivator for radical terrorist groups like ISIS.

Harris’s anti-Islamic statements have been notable. Back in 2006, he posted a statement on his blog that bordered on xenophobia: “Unless liberals realize that there are tens of millions of people in the Muslim world who are far scarier than Dick Cheney, they will be unable to protect civilization from its genuine enemies.”

Dawkins’ remarks don’t even jibe with earlier comments he made in a piece he wrote for the Guardian back in 2001 where he contradicted the claim that terrorists are cowards:

“On the contrary, they had sufficiently effective minds braced with an insane courage, and it would pay us mightily to understand where that courage came from. It came from religion. Religion is also, of course, the underlying source of the divisiveness in the Middle East, which motivated the use of this deadly weapon in the first place.”

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