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Monday, May 12, 2008

Well-known Turkish creationist sentenced to prison - not ID-related source says

Creationist Adnan Oktar (better known as Harun Yahya was sentenced to three years in prison for "creating an illegal organization for personal gain", according to a Reuters report, which also notes
Oktar's publishing house has published dozens of books that have been distributed in more than 150 countries and been translated into more than 50 languages. He has a wide following in the Muslim world.

But Turkish commentators say the group's books, numbering more than 200, are probably written by a pool of writers, a charge the author denies.
I asked my Turkish journalist friend Mustafa Akyol what role his advocacy of creationism played in his fate (Turkey is governed by an aggressive secular elite), but Mustafa says, no, "not for creationism or for any other idea but because of other legal issues relating to his group."*

*Update May 13, 2008: This sentence is slightly rephrased from the original, as Mr. Akyol has contacted me to say that it better represents the situation.

Mustafa provides many insightful articles on Turkish politics, which can itself seem murky. Here, for example, as in many other columns, he offers the lowdown on the "secular" party in Turkey - atheist bluestockings with concealed weapons, so far as I can see:
In his speech at Oxford University on May 1, Mr. Rehn said that the political tension in Turkey is between “extreme rather than liberal secularists” and “Muslim democrats”. And Mr. Lagendijk, at a speech at İIzmir’s Eylül University, said that headscarves should be free in universities, and, as a “leftist,” that he feels “shame” about the illiberal stance of Turkey’s so-called-social-democrat-but-actually-Kemalist main opposition party, the CHP.

[ ... ]

The fact is that Kemalism is becoming a more and more reactionary and isolationist force, which sees the EU membership as a threat to its existence. If Turkey’s becomes an EU member, Kemalism will inevitably cease to be the official ideology, and become just one of the many competing ideas in the public square. But for its devotees, apparently, this is just too big a risk to take.

I'm no fan of face veils or sackwear but, at the same time, I have never understood the notion of forbidding women to wear scarves on their heads, if that's the custom they are used to.

How would Canadian women like it if we moved to a country where women customarily went about bare breasted and were informed, "Well, in order to fit in, you must do it too. It is modern and progressive. In fact, wearing blouses is a crime here."

Believe me, I know lots of women who are modern and progressive who would respond by catching the next plane back to Toronto International.

Anyway, Mustafa knows the Istanbul scene pretty well, and it seems safe to say that that Yahya's case is more like Kent Hovind's (American creationist jailed on tax fraud charges) than Guillermo Gonzalez's.

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