The author of The God Delusion and The Selfish Gene, whose new book, The Greatest Show on Earth, is serialised in The Times next week, has topped bestseller lists all over the world but never in a predominantly Muslim country.
None of Professor Dawkins’ books, on evolution as well as religion, has ever been translated into Arabic, and his work has been heavily censored in Turkey. In an interview with The Times, he said that popularising evolution in the Islamic world, where creationist beliefs are strong, was a challenge he is keen to take up. “To be a bestseller in a Muslim country would be a personal triumph,” he said.
“I would like to see my books translated into Arabic. They haven’t been. They are all translated into Hebrew. Persian, I’m not sure. My books are translated into Turkish and they regularly get censored and suppressed.
“The experience of my Turkish publisher of The God Delusion was that he was threatened with arrest for blasphemy. He may even have been arrested, and my website has been banned in Turkey. I feel amused really. There’s something to be said for being suppressed, it makes people want to read you.”
While most non-fundamentalist Christian traditions have largely accepted evolution, Islam was still much more hostile, he said. “It’s the fact that Islam teaches the Koran is the literal word of God, unlike most Christian sects, which say the Bible is largely symbolic. That could well be the cause.”
Professor Dawkins added that Islamic influence is the likely explanation for the growing popularity of creationist beliefs in Britain, where a recent poll found that 30 per cent of teenagers accept the rebranded idea of “intelligent design”.
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