Actor Shabana Azmi on Tuesday dismissed a claim by an anonymous Twitter user that her writer-husband Javed Akhtar was only nominated but didn't win the Richard Dawkins Award 2020, calling it "patently untrue." Akhtar, on Sunday, said he was deeply honoured to receive the award, named after the English evolutionary biologist and author.
A Twitter user uploaded a screenshot of an apparent Whatsapp chat on Tuesday, claiming that Akhtar's name was merely "proposed" for the award which he mistook as an announcement.
Quoting that tweet, Azmi said the 75-year-old writer had received an email from Dawkins himself, announcing the honour.
"This is patently untrue! We have an email from Richard Dawkins on 5th June offering the award and also from Robyn Blumner who heads the Centre for Inquiry, USA. I feel sad for these pathetic trolls who do not care that they will stand exposed in seconds for such a preposterous claim," the actor said.
Javed Akhtar @Javedakhtarjadu is the 2020 Richard Dawkins Award winner and I could not be more pleased. The Center for Inquiry, on whose board I sit, has designated him this year's recipient for his courageous public stands on behalf of atheism, rationality, and freethought.— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) June 9, 2020
Akhtar had told PTI on Sunday that he was "deeply honoured" to be receive the award, which recognises distinguished individuals from different walks of life for publicly upholding the values of secularism, rationalism and scientific truth.
"I have been a great admirer of Richard Dawkins ever since I read his first book 'The Selfish Gene'. I received an email from him informing me that I had been unanimously selected for the award by the board of Center for Inquiry USA, in which The Richard Dawkins Foundation is housed," Akhtar said at the time.