By Julie Zauzmer
In the introduction to his 2006 book “The God Delusion,” author Richard Dawkins boldly declares his goal: “If this book works as I intend, religious readers who open it will be atheists when they put it down.”
It is a goal that has meant Dawkins’s books have courted controversy ever since. Now, a group of translators wants to get Dawkins’s books in front of a new group of religious readers: Muslim readers, in Muslim-majority countries where atheism is rare.
“If you get enough people to talk about these ideas, if you convince people it’s okay to think about religion, to criticize religion — if you get a critical mass of people, you can probably change something, change the situation in these countries. … It’s a bit ambitious, but maybe not impossible,” said Jana Lenzova, director of the translation project. “I don’t mind what other people are, but I think they should have access to all the information so they can make up their own minds.”
Lenzova’s team is making professionally translated editions of Dawkins’s books available for free online in four languages: Arabic, spoken in dozens of countries, from Iraq and Saudi Arabia to the entire northern part of the African continent; Farsi, spoken in Iran and Afghanistan; Urdu, spoken in Pakistan and parts of India; and Indonesian.
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