Berkeley radio station scraps Richard Dawkins event over 'abusive' Islam comments

A radio station in Berkeley, California, has canceled renowned atheist Richard Dawkins' speaking engagement to promote his latest book on Aug. 9 over an "abusive" comment on Islam which caused a stir among the public.

(REUTERS / Chris Keane)Well-known atheist and best-selling author Richard Dawkins speaks to the crowd during the "Rock Beyond Belief" festival at Fort Bragg army base in North Carolina, March 31, 2012.

Dawkins was supposed to talk about his book "Science in the Soul: Collected Writings of a Passionate Rationalist" during a benefit event for radio station KPFA. On July 20, the station announced that the event had been canceled because of the atheist's comments on Islam which he posted on Twitter, The Independent detailed.

"@ToddKincannon Haven't read Koran so couldn't quote chapter & verse like I can for Bible. But often say Islam greatest force for evil today," said Dawkins on Twitter.

In an email, KPFA told ticket buyers that they had booked the benefit event because of Dawkins' science book at a time when they were not aware that a lot of people were offended by the atheist's comments on Islam. The radio station maintained that it supports free speech, but not "abusive speech."

In response to the cancellation of the event, Dawkins wrote an open letter that denied that his comments on Islam were abusive. However, he said he will not apologize for denouncing the "violence of Islamism."

The Center for Inquiry, in which Dawkins sits as one of the board of directors, expressed dismay at what the KPFA did. It accused the station of cancelling an event "without evidence" of the alleged abusive comments against Islam.

In addition, the CFI called KPFA's move "unconscionable" and a betrayal of its own values. It hailed Dawkins as a person who looked forward to sharing his wisdom to the ticket holders of the benefit event.

This is not the first time that Dawkins has caused a stir with his comments on religion. In the past, he had also described God as "the most unpleasant character in all fiction."