Al Jazeera: New Atheism’s astonishing hypocrisy toward Islam

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.

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  • winniec

    Sam Harris is normally thoughtful, but he cannot possibly speak for all atheists. There is no central atheist organization for the world. Each atheist basically speaks for himself. Hicks and the French atheist in question acted for themselves. No one sent them or approved, unlike the Charlie attackers who were ISIS-affiliated.
    Islamic law specifically allows vigilante killers if the Islamic state does not punish blasphemers or apostates. Atheism has no equivalent of Sharia.

    It seems Muslims are generally unable to see such distinctions and are unprepared by Islamic groupthink to perform reasoned analysis.

    • Censored_often

      Well said. 🙂

    • J. C.

      Most Muzzies are too inbred to be capable of anything requiring intelligence and reason.

      • Raymond Hietapakka

  • Alain

    Militant atheists are more than a little annoying, but they normally do not try to kill those who reject their beliefs. Personally I have a strong dislike for any group trying to impose its beliefs on me without being invited to do so, but again with the exception of Islam one can simply send them packing without risk.

    • Mohammad Pig

      “but they normally do not try to kill those who reject their beliefs”

      Only if you ignore the 20th century

      • T.C.

        Or forget about the Reign of Terror in 1793… which led to the Napoleonic Wars as the Revolution spread their secularist ideas through conquest to the rest of Europe. That would result in about 6 million dead in the early 19th century.

        • Georgina

          tut, tut. Secularism is not equal to atheism (one is a disbelief in gods, the other a belief in democracy)
          Napoleon Bonapart was a catholic and the French Revolution was (origionally) anti-monachy, not anti church.

          • T.C.

            Actually, the democracy we see today was the evolution of an idea that eventually embraced the concept of secularism. Secularism is not democracy.

            However,since you, like most atheists, seem too lazy too Google your definitions and history, here is a little lesson designed to help you grasp an important concept:

            During the French Revolution the original starting point for secularism were the various groups that made up the Committee for Public Safety. These included the “Cult of Reason,” basically proto-atheists, and the “Cult of the
            Supreme Being” under Robespierre (proto-Giaists). Together these “cults” executed thousands of people who disagreed with them. Eventually Robespierre turned-on and executed the leaders of the Cult of Reason and imposed his own whacked-out belief system on France. This ended when he in turn was assassinated. In the meantime most scholars accept that the French revolution during this period was very anti-Church and anti-Christian – either pro-atheist
            or pro-supreme being, take your pick. Laws were passed which were specifically aimed at the destruction of the Catholic church, Christianity and Christians. These laws included a ordinance that allowed people to kill Catholic priests should they be seen wandering the neighborhood.

            Eventually, the anarchy created by French Revolution, in no small part due to the actions of these two cults, led to the conditions which allowed Napoleon the dictator to step in and take over. He outlawed both the Cult of Reason and
            Cult of Supreme Being, but decided that many of the other principals espoused by these cults were good enough to impose on the surrounding European populations through conquest and warfare (even though he didn’t much believe in them himself). It was one way of harnessing the revolutionary fervor of the French.

            Currently, about 40% of French identify as atheist, while 85% of French believe they don’t need to believe in God to be “moral.” These are beliefs that largely originated in the deliberate slaughter of Christians during the Reign of Terror. The French secularism that we see today is a by-product of the imposition of atheism and a Gia-like cult by Revolutionary terrorists on the people of France in 1793.

            The point being that French secularism had its origins in genocide perpetrated and abetted by atheists who were willing to kill people who didn’t ascribe to their beliefs.

  • Mohammad Pig

    “no one commits violent acts in the name of atheism”

    Atheists will commit acts of violence to IMPOSE atheism onto the unwilling.

    • Frau Katze

      Atheism was only part of the Communist worldview.

    • Barrington Minge

      I disagree. Atheists do not want to force their beliefs on anyone. They just don’t believe in all the religious mumbo-jumbo.
      I am an atheist and frankly I don’t give a toss what you believe, but I do object to any religion that uses violence to further its aims (any guesses who that might be?)

  • disqus_PwGxBXHn8l

    There is no reason to think an atheist couldn’t murder in defense of his beliefs. The Chapel Hill shooting was supposed to be Parking Haram Central but attendant circumstances suggest that atheism did play a role:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/re-chapel-hill-shootings-new-atheist-sam-harris-says-no-atheism-to-see-there/

    Harris probably misstepped when he attempted to defend the matter as unrelated to atheism. He should have stayed well clear of it. – Denyse O’Leary from Ottawa

    • Frau Katze

      From what I have read, the whole area was overcrowded and lacked parking in general.

      Hicks became obsessed with the subject. I strongly suspect that was the motive (although it must admitted he must be a pretty nasty guy. Neighbours agreed).

      • disqus_PwGxBXHn8l

        Don’t doubt he became obsessed. But the general tenor of his Facebook page was his superiority to “believers” in anything except naturalist atheism. Then, one must ask, where does that lead?
        Wolves are believers in naturalist atheism too.

        The question is, how seriously does one want to take one’s personal viewpoint? Some of us would just courteously give notice or list and sell.

        Of possible interest: The prosecutor in the Chapel Hill case is going to seek the death penalty:
        http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2015/03/02/258360/da-plans-to-seek-death-penalty.html

        In Toronto, now a world class city, I charged $35/mo for a parking space, not someone’s life. 😉

  • Gary

    I don’t doubt that one day in the future Dawkin’s will have followers that erect Statues of him and have a Holy site to meet and read sections from his book.

    Most religions don’t just pop-up in a complete form . They start with a base set of tenets and core group that tries to spread it .

  • Georgina

    While muslims identify as muslims, sometimes even claiming it as their ‘race’ or nationality, atheists tend to identify as black, white, American, Australian, geeks, scientists, plumbers, erudites, chocolate lovers etc.
    Only when asked what religion we belong to are we likely to say “Oh none, I’m an atheist” – as in “No thanks, I am a teetotaller” when offered a whiskey.

    Being an atheist is only really relevant to theocrats – we have no wish to live in your theocracy thank you.

    As for ‘militant’ atheists – we don’t want our children to live in your theocracy either.
    (Getting even ‘militant’ atheists to agree on a commom ideology is like herding cats.)