Monday, October 27, 2008

Shame on Turkey

In and around Kirkpinar, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

Any regular reader of this blog (if there are any!) will know how keen I am on Turkey, so they will also understand how upset I am to hear that Turkey has banned this blog, together with all other blogspot blogs, since last Friday. (Strange because I am sure I managed to upload and access this blog on Saturday as well).

There is this religious nutcase who seems to have a lot of power, with lots of money and friends in the right places, including judges. His name is Adnan Oktar, and writes silly books under the name of Yahya Haroun. He is a fanatic creationist and anti-Darwinist who has produced and load of very trashy books and pamphlets, which he seels and gives away at his own bookshop on a prominent street corner in the touristy Sultanahmet area of the city. I mentioned here in 2006, when we were traveling through Turkey that I read the booklet which I had p;icked up as an interlude to reading Richard Dawkins’ magnificent The Blind Watchmaker. The latter discussed almost every one of the silly arguments put up by the creationists, every one of them put forward by this Yahya character and showed what utter nonsense they were when subjected to rigourous intellectual scrutiny.

The man also produced a few books comparing Darwin to Hitler to Stalin and the mass murderers of the 20th century, through the link with social Darwinism, which had nothing to do with the great man himself. At the time, I thought this man to be a figure of ridicule and sad extremist with an individual hobby to attack Darwinism as a way of justifying his belief in his god.

But it seems not. He is a powerful figure. He managed to get Richard Dawkins’ own site banned in Turkey earlier this year and now he has done the same to all the blogspots (as well as WordPad and others). I am amazed that he has managed to do it, but he has.

This is not good news for Turkey or its people. I don’t know how much we can blame on the politicians, as he managed to get these bans in place through the courts but it is unthinkable that he could get so far in Turkey without the support of the politicians. These politicians from the religious AK Party, who say they are not interested in creating an Islamic state and who say that secularism in safe in their hands… well, you just have to wonder…

But maybe I should not say too much here, as I might find it difficult to get back into the country next time I try…


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