KPFA Radio, a radio station in Berkeley, California, uninvited Richard Dawkins and canceled his planned appearance on their channel. Originally, Dawkins had been invited by them to talk about his latest book, but the radio station changed their mind about him due to what they perceived as “Islamophobia”.
In KPFA Radio's statement, their reasons for canceling the event was “abusive speech against Islam” which had allegedly “offended and hurt … so many people”. In the same statement, the radio station claims to support “serious free speech”, but not “abusive speech”, and stated: “We apologize for not having had a broader knowledge of Dawkins’s views much earlier.”
Dawkins, who is known to have criticized Christianity and religion for many years, recently started commenting on Islam, which led Berkeley activists to contact KPFA Radio to warn them of him, calling him “a very well-known Islamophobe.”
In an open letter to the radio station, Dawkins, astonished by the station's reaction and lack of fact checking, responded to the cancellation and defended himself against the accusations.
“The idea that I have engaged in abusive speech against Islam is preposterous, which even the most rudimentary fact-checking by KPFA would have made clear.” he stated, continuing: “I have indeed strongly condemned the misogyny, homophobia, and violence of Islamism, of which Muslims — particularly Muslim women — are the prime victims. I make no apologies for denouncing those oppressive cruelties, and I will continue to do so.”
Furthermore, he pointed out that this was the first time for him to be treated this way, despite years of publicly criticizing Christianity. “I am known as a frequent critic of Christianity and have never been de-platformed for that. Why do you give Islam a free pass? Why is it fine to criticize Christianity but not Islam?”
Known as an indeed vocal critic of Christianity for years, Dawkins recently showed signs of softening his stance and instead of regarding Islam as the bigger evil. At a science festival last month, Dawkins had stated that not all religions were equally bad, but that Islam was “at present the most evil religion in the world”, and especially harmful to Muslims themselves.