Richard Dawkins is planning to make a number of his books available free of charge to the Islamic world after it emerged that an Arabic translation of The God Delusion was downloaded illegally millions of times, The Times reported.
The famous atheist said that he had recently learned that 30 million copies of the book had been illegally downloaded – 3 million times in Saudi Arabia alone.
'I derive huge encouragement from that,' he said yesterday, adding that he had heard similar stories about the number of PDFs of the book that had been downloaded in Iran.
Dawkins says that he has started a project to provide free downloadable PDFs of seven of his books, including The God Delusion, 'in the language of Islamic countries'.
The influential book, written in 2006, has sold around 3 million copies. It blames the atrocities of September 11, 2001 on religion and argues that God cannot be all powerful and all loving.
The Times noted that Dawkins has been criticised from across the political spectrum for some of his statements on the monotheistic religions and last year was 'no platformed' by a 'liberal left' radio station in the US over his views on Islam.
The KPFA station in Berkeley, California, cancelled an event last August despite selling hundreds of tickets because, it said, of Dawkins's 'abusive' comments on Islam.
Dawkins, who is based in Oxford, told The Times that he had felt 'sadness' at the 'knee jerk' move by the radio station, which had been his favourite while he had lived in California.
He said that the illegal downloading of The God Delusion was 'very encouraging', adding that he did not gain financially from it.