- The Washington Times - Monday, September 21, 2015

Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins waded into controversy on Sunday when he questioned the motives of Ahmed Mohamed, the 14-year-old Muslim boy who was arrested and detained in Texas after his homemade clock was mistaken for bomb at his school.

Mr. Dawkins tweeted a link to a YouTube video called, “Ahmed Mohammed [sic] Clock is a FRAUD,” in which user Thomas Talbot concludes that Ahmed’s “clock” is simply a commercial bedside alarm clock removed from its original casing, The Guardian reported.

“If this is true, what was his motive?” Mr. Dawkins asked in his tweet. “Whether or not he wanted the police to arrest him, they shouldn’t have done so.”

His next tweet said of Mr. Talbot: “This man seems to know what he’s talking about.”’

His comments sparked a flood of criticism on social media. The Verge website accused Mr. Dawkins of “seizing upon the tiniest, most irrelevant factual point of order simply to add his voice to the conversation and crowbar in his own agenda.”

The liberal Salon magazine ripped Mr. Dawkins as a “narrow-minded bigot” and “full time crap-stirrer.”

“[I]t’s unfortunate that an intellectual who once had the power to provoke insightful, challenging debate has in recent years turned into a sour crank, eager to leverage his brand as a prominent atheist as an excuse to go big on Islamphobia [sic] and congratulate himself on his horrendous views on sexual assault,” Salon wrote.

Responding to the backlash, Mr. Dawkins tweeted: “Assembling clock from bought components is fine. Taking clock out of its case to make it look as if he built it is not fine. Which is true?”

Linking to an Art Voice blog post titled “Reverse Engineering Ahmed Mohamed’s clock … and Ourselves,” Mr. Dawkins tweeted: “If the reassembled components did something more than the original clock, that’s creative. If not, it looks like hoax.”

Mr. Dawkins eventually backed off a bit by tweeting, “Sorry if I go a bit over the top in my passion for truth.”

“I’m not putting down the child. I’m putting down myself & the rest of us for being fooled. And the police for arresting him for nothing,” he continued. “If the authorities really thought it might be a bomb, why did they not evacuate the building? Casts doubt on their motive for arresting him.

“Clock story: real issue? Could be police racism? Could be over-reaction to bomb fears, as with air passengers arrested for silly bomb jokes?” Mr. Dawkins asked. “I don’t give two hoots if the boy is Muslim or Druid, brown or skybluepink. He was victim of same dopey zero tolerance security as everyone.”

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