Richard Dawkins is backpedaling after he posted a tweet Tuesday that compared "clock kid" Ahmed Mohamed to an Islamic State child soldier who was captured on video beheading a man.
In the tweet, the famed biologist and atheist criticized Mohamed -- the teen who famously got arrested after his homemade clock was mistaken for a hoax bomb -- for suing his school district and the city of Irving, Texas, for $15 million.
Dawkins attempted to refute the argument that Mohamed is "only a kid."
"And how old is this 'kid'?" Dawkins wrote, offering a link to an International Business Times story about a young Islamic State militant beheading a man.
The backlash on Twitter came quickly. Some of Dawkins' followers wondered why he chose to compare Mohamed to -- of all things -- a child soldier slaughtering people on behalf of a terrorist organization, when he apparently only meant to make a much more benign point about kids not being exempt from blame.
Moreover, Mohamed didn't actually hoax anyone -- his school project was mistaken for a disguised explosive device, and he was arrested and cleared of charges despite officers knowing there was no threat.
Dawkins attempted to soften his statement almost immediately. He retweeted tweets from several defenders who said his argument had nothing to do with the children being Muslims, as some critics were implying, and was simply a comparison between two children whose actions he disagreed with.
Dawkins added that the two "are comparable in NO other respect than that they are both young." He didn't return several requests for comment.
The scientist has long been a critic of the "clock kid." He called Mohamed a "fraud" in September, claiming the boy had ulterior motives for bringing the device to school in the first place.