The Feb. 10 killing in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, of three Arab-American students, allegedly by atheist Craig Stephen Hicks has led some to compare militant atheism to Islamic militancy. Atheists are not happy with the comparison.
“The deluge of claims of equivalence between this crime and the Charlie Hebdo atrocity and the daily behavior of a group like ISIS [an acronym for another name for the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL] has been astonishing to witness,” noted atheist author and writer Sam Harris said on a recent podcast.
He denied any link between atheism and Hicks’ actions. Harris insists that the comparison was unwarranted and atheists’ crimes have nothing to do with their beliefs, not least because there exists “no atheist scripture or doctrine.” Hicks said he was a fan of New Atheists such as Harris and Cambridge University professor Richard Dawkins.
Harris’ efforts to distance atheism from violent acts committed by individual atheists exposes his hypocrisy toward Muslims and Islam, which he routinely portrays as being distinctively violent.
While individual violent overtures may not be reflective of atheism, Harris’ assertion that no one commits violent acts in the name of atheism is simply inaccurate. For example, in February a court in France sentenced a 69-year-old man to prison for throwing plaster grenades and shooting at a mosque in western France. “I am a republican, an atheist, and what happened at Charlie Hebdo infuriated me,” the attacker told authorities…
Usaid Siddiqui is a Canadian-based freelance writer. He has written for PolicyMic, Aslan Media and Mondoweiss on current affairs.