Richard Dawkins Defends Tweet Saying Malala Yousafzai May Leave Islam as She Grows Older

Richard Dawkins
Well-known atheist and best-selling author Richard Dawkins speaks to supporters during the "Rock Beyond Belief" festival at Fort Bragg Army Base in North Carolina, March 31, 2012. |

Atheist intellectual and author Richard Dawkins is defending his controversial remarks on Twitter saying that 17-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai might leave her religion as she gets older.

Dawkins defended his words in a series of tweets on the social media website days after remarking that Malala Yousafzai "is religious now but give her time."

"I wrote two heartfelt tweets congratulating Malala. Flood of attacks saying she's religious. I defended her: yes she's religious. For now," wrote Dawkins on Twitter.

"I congratulated Malala. People then attacked her for wearing hijab. I DEFENDED her; she's only 17. So I was attacked for 'attacking' her," he added.

Last week, Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to promote education for female youth in the Islamic Republic.

Yousafzai was nearly killed for her activism, as Taliban gunmen shot her in the head in October 2012.

Malala Yousafzai
Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, the joint winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, speaks at Birmingham library in Birmingham, central England, October 10, 2014. Pakistani teenager Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 for advocating girls' right to education, and Indian campaigner against child trafficking and labour Kailash Satyarthi won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday. |


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She shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Kailash Satyarthi, an Indian advocate for children's rights who founded the Save Childhood Movement.

On Saturday, Dawkins tweeted about Yousafzai winning the Nobel prize, stating that while she's a Muslim now, she will probably leave the religion as she becomes more educated.

"Of course Malala is religious now but give her time, she's only 17 & getting the education she fought for on behalf of girls like her," tweeted Dawkins.

The tweet was not without its supporters, for as of Tuesday morning it received over 230 retweets and was favorited more than 430 times.

Nevertheless, the comment also received a flurry of criticism from people taking issue with Dawkins' conclusion that higher education will lead Yousafzai to leave Islam.

"Tweets like these are counterproductive. … We wouldn't have problems if every Muslim was like her," tweeted Cyruss1989.

"Don't patronize her. She may very well grow to be educated and religious, like lots of people," tweeted Felipe Botero.

Recently, Dawkins has garnered controversy for periodic remarks posted on Twitter regarding Islam and abortion, among other topics.

In early 2013, Dawkins received criticism for a tweet in which he talked about the problem of "Islamic barbarians."

"Some people (perhaps first language is not English) think I was calling ALL Muslims barbarians. No. I was calling Islamic BARBARIANS barbarians," responded Dawkins.

In August, Dawkins told a woman via Twitter that babies in the womb who are found to have Down syndrome should be aborted and the parents should "try again."

The tweet prompted many people on the social media site to post photos of family members who had Down syndrome, asking Dawkins if he supported aborting them.

"Dawkins' ignorant comments serve only to further stigmatize people with Down syndrome," said pro-life activist Lila Rose. "While many people with Down syndrome, their families, and advocacy groups are fighting discrimination on a daily basis, Dawkins calls for their murder before they are even born."

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