Spreading the word
But what about other places where the message is even more desperately needed?
At some point apparently around 2008 an Iraqi atheist named Bassam al-Baghdadi (who, fortunately, lives in Sweden) translated the entire book into Arabic and posted it on the internet as a downloadable PDF. By November 2014 it had been downloaded ten million times, with the number of actual readers probably being somewhat larger since downloaded files can be shared around in various ways, including to people who do not have internet access. It appears that Dawkins doesn't object to this, and indeed there may not be an official Arabic translation at all, since the note at the bottom of the cover (shown above) says "the book forbidden in all Arab countries" (not "in all Islamic countries" as most English-language articles on this topic claim). The fact that millions have accessed a book banned by their governments illustrates how censorship and control of information are becoming ever more difficult in the internet age.
The Arabic language is the fourth-ranked language in the world by number of native speakers (after Mandarin, Spanish, and English). It is prevalent over a vast stretch of the globe from Oman to Morocco, an east-west span one and a half times that of the continental US. And Arabic-speaking countries include some of those in which the mental sickness of religion is most entrenched and most dangerous. The importance of spreading such a powerful atheist message in Arabic cannot be overstated. There is abundant evidence that atheism and questioning of religion have recently been growing more common in the Arab world, and works like The God Delusion have undoubtedly played a role, just as they have in the West. Many Arabs chafe under Islam's strictures and feel revolted at the brutality of groups like Dâ'ish (ISIL), just as anyone else would, and are willing to at least think about alternatives.
There is an interesting nuance in the Arabic title of the book. The word "god" is translated as ilâh, the common noun for "a god" in a general sense, not as Allâh, the proper-noun name for the specific Judeo-Christian-Islamic God -- a distinction normally made in English only by whether the word "god" is capitalized or not. This emphasizes that "delusion" applies to all deities, not just a specific one.
There is apparently also an online Persian translation of the book.
Islam seems so pervasive (and violent) in the Middle East that most Westerners believe it can never be uprooted or even significantly weakened in the region. But Christianity in Europe would have given the same impression in the age of witch-burnings and the Thirty Years War, and ideas can spread much faster in today's educated, internet-savvy world. The time will come when the lands where civilization began are freed from this centuries-old blight.