By Alison Flood
Richard Dawkins is responding to what he called the “stirring towards atheism” in some Islamic countries with a programme to make free downloads of his books available in Arabic, Urdu, Farsi and Indonesian.
The scientist and atheist said he was “greatly encouraged” to learn that the unofficial Arabic pdf of the book had been downloaded 13m times. Dawkins writes in The God Delusion about his wish that the “open-minded people” who read it will “break free of the vice of religion altogether”. It has sold 3.3m copies worldwide since it was published in 2006 – far fewer than the number of Arabic copies that Dawkins believes to have been downloaded illegally.
The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science recently merged with the Washington DC-based Center for Inquiry. Dawkins said the CFI decided on “a more systematic programme” of translating his work in ebook form following “stirrings toward atheism in Iran and other Islamic countries”. It will be the first time his work has been made available in Arabic, Urdu, Farsi and other languages of Islamic countries.
The first book to be translated will be River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life, which tackles evolution and which is Dawkins’ shortest book. The Center for Inquiry hopes the new versions will be available on its website by the end of this year. It will steer clear of books that already have legitimately published translations.
“We are choosing languages, not counties,” said Dawkins. “The pdfs may, of course, be downloaded by anybody in any country, but we imagine most Urdu downloads will be in Pakistan, most Indonesian downloads in Indonesia and Malaysia, and most Farsi downloads in Iran.”
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