- The Washington Times - Monday, July 24, 2017

A radio station in Berkeley, California, has canceled an event with famed atheist Richard Dawkins because of his past comments about Islam.

Mr. Dawkins, author of “Science in the Soul: Selected Writings of a Passionate Rationalist,” was scheduled to hold a discussion and book signing on Aug. 9, hosted by the radio station KPFA. However, the station informed ticketholders in an email Thursday that it was issuing a refund because of Mr. Dawkins’ past criticisms of Islam, The New York Times reported.

“We had booked this event based entirely on his excellent new book on science, when we didn’t know he had offended and hurt — in his tweets and other comments on Islam, so many people,” read the email, which Mr. Dawkins later published on his website. “KPFA does not endorse hurtful speech. While KPFA emphatically supports serious free speech, we do not support abusive speech. We apologize for not having had broader knowledge of Dawkins views much earlier.”

Mr. Dawkins published his response to KPFA, calling its decision “truly astonishing” and hypocritical.

“You conspicuously did not quote a source when accusing me of ‘abusive speech,’ ” he wrote. “If you had consulted me, or if you had done even rudimentary fact-checking, you would have concluded that I have never used abusive speech against Islam. I have called IslamISM ‘vile’ but surely you, of all people, understand that Islamism is not the same as Islam.

“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?” he asked. “Why is it fine to criticize Christianity but not Islam?”

Quincy McCoy, KPFA’s general manager, defended the decision to cancel the event in a news broadcast on Friday, The New York Times reported.

“We believe that it is our free speech right not to participate with anyone who uses hateful or hurtful language against a community that is already under attack,” Mr. McCoy said.

The station cited a tweet from Mr. Dawkins calling Islam “the greatest force for evil in the world today,” among other past statements.

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