Shooting the WordPress

The San Francisco based million-blogger strong blogging platform WordPress was recently informed by the legal representative of Turkish writer Harun Yahya that under orders from a Turkish court “access to WordPress.com has been blocked in Turkey.” The letter listed a number of “defamation” blogs – “all” of which make allegedly “slanderous” remarks against Harun Yahya. This ban is significant for the larger ripple it casts in Turkey’s new Islamist democracy.

Harun Yahya, which is the pen-name of Adnan Oktar, is a sort of spiritual head of a vast Islamic apologist outfit in Turkey, which has reached Islamic publishers in London, Canada and the US. Though Harun Yahya is described as a “charlatan”, he has made inroads with Muslims all the way from Indonesia to America.

His books cover topics including refutations of atheism and Darwinism, romanticism as a weapon of Satan, anti-evolution pseudo-science, affirmation of miracles, and attacks on Freemasonry, Zionists, Buddhists, and terrorism (Darwin’s fault). In 1996, Harun Yahya published a book called Holocaust Lies (also called Holocaust Deception), which claimed that “what is presented as Holocaust is the death of some Jews due to the typhus plague during the war and the famine towards the end of the war caused by the defeat of the German.” Oddly, a few years later, he pinned anti-semitism on “neo-paganism” and “Darwinism” while putting himself forward as a denouncer of anti-semitism. Additionally, Yahya denies writing Holocaust Lies, but that is hard to believe.

Since around 1998, Harun Yahya’s operations have focused emphatically on promoting Islamic creationism. Recently, his operations sent a glossy 770 page book about creationism to European and US scientists. This creationist movement has allied itself with the American creationists. In fact, in 2005, American taxpayers had to pay for a Turkish non-scientist creationist speaker to come and enter the debate on evolution in Kansas. The speaker was allied with the Science Research Foundation in Turkey (Bilim Arastirma Vakfi, or BAV), which is said to be headed by Harun Yahya/Adnan Oktar, and has murky financial history.

Journalist Tony Ortega wrote a revealing piece in a local US newspaper about BAV. It discussed the intimidation that Turkish creationists have mounted against secular Turkish scientists and the defeat of evolution in Turkish schools:

But beginning in 1998, BAV spearheaded an effort to attack Turkish academics who taught Darwinian theory. Professors there say they were harassed and threatened, and some of them were slandered in fliers that labeled them “Maoists” for teaching evolution. In 1999, six of the professors won a civil court case against BAV for defamation and were awarded $4,000 each. But seven years after BAV’s offensive began, says Istanbul University forensics professor Umit Sayin (one of the slandered faculty members), the battle is over.
“There is no fight against the creationists now. They have won the war,” Sayin tells the Pitch from his home in Istanbul. “In 1998, I was able to motivate six members of the Turkish Academy of Sciences to speak out against the creationist movement. Today, it’s impossible to motivate anyone. They’re afraid they’ll be attacked by the radical Islamists and the BAV.”

All of this is the backdrop to Harun Yahya, but it does not explain why the Turkish courts, under pressure from Harun Yahya have suddenly banned WordPress.

Apparently WordPress has been hosting many blogs Harun Yayha attributes to his political enemy, Edsip Yuksel – whom the letter from Yahya’s attorneys to WordPress describes as the head of a “crime organization.” Interestingly, Edsip Yuksel is Harun Yahya/Adnan Oktar’s former mentor (he relates the history of their tumultuous relationship here). Yuksel is another odd fellow, connected with 19.org, which on the basis of a mathematical Biblical Code, and a Quranic code connected with the number 19, seeks a “Copernican revolution” in religion. He recently released a “reformist” translation of the Quran, which a prominent American publisher had picked up initially, but dropped once its eccentricities were discovered.

A fuller picture about the WordPress ban thus starts to emerge. WordPress is caught up in a long-standing political and cultural battle between two competing Muslim groups. The ban, therefore, reveals little about slander, or defamation, and I am uncertain how effective blog-protests will be (though it is an intriguing idea to try to force the hands of Turkish courts).

Rather, the ban should be seen as the first sign of the kind of censorship that an Islamist Turkish government is willing to accept. A Turkish court has shut down blogs because a local court favours one Muslim leader over another. What does tomorrow hold? The Islamist political leadership, which came to power by attacking secularist Turks for their anti-free speech views (Erdogan of the ruling party complained about not having free-speech rights when he recited an Islamic poem) is now enabling silencing of speech itself.

What does this say about the promises that Islamist parties make before actually acquiring power? How does this bode for Islamist democrats in other parts of the Muslim world? What does it reveal about the Islamist promise in general? It will be important, and instructive, to watch what happens with this case going forward. I would hope that the Islamists will recognise the principles of openness and freedom of speech that brought them to power, and get rid of this ban. We have seen too many Muslim dictatorships and monarchies engage in shutting down and arresting bloggers. Muslim democrats promised not to go down that route. Will they uphold that promise?

53 Responses to “Shooting the WordPress”

  1. Edip Yuksel Says:

    Thank you for this article about the Turkish cult leader, Adnan. The Turkish court went along with this cult leader and had censored my website, http://www.19.org to Turk Telecom subscribes since 2006. Though my attorney changed the court order last year, the website is still censored. Months later we learned that the cult has got several other court orders for the same reason.

    The Turkish legal system is so troubled that it can be abused by a dangerous cult leader like Adnan to ridiculous levels.

    As for my “eccentricities”, well, thank you for that compliment. I prefer to be an eccentric than a scholar regurgitating the work of the past generations without critical thinking.

    Peace,
    Edip Yuksel.

    (My first name is spelled E-d-i-p)

  2. Edip Yuksel Says:

    The accusation of the Turkish lawyer, Mr. Kalkan, who represents a control-freak client who has blocked hundreds of websites before blocking wordpress, is not accurate.

    I do not have a single blog on wordpress. Unfortunately, last year I came across a blog, which was using my name and posting a few articles of mine. However, if the owners of the wordpress check their database, they will know that none of those blogs have anything to do with me.

    Occasionally, some of the former cult members who were spiritually, emotionally, and financially abused by Adnan contact me for help; but I know only a few of them personally, and I never recommended them to use wordpress for their fight against Adnan and the Turkish courts protective of him. It was their decision to fight the Turkish courts through blogging.

    Personally, I do not approve blog-spamming; but knowing the abuse and suppression these young men and women have encountered in Turkey, I can understand and respect their motives. Their overuse or abuse of wordpress was their only chance to fight against a system that unfortunately has protected a cult leader that abused his victims to their bones in multiple ways.

    After Adnan Oktar banned my website, http://www.19.org, I hired an attorney in Turkey. (I live in Arizona). After spending several thousand dollars on attorney fees, after getting another court order unblocking my website for Turkish visitors, after more than a year, we are still unable to actually unblock the website. Why? Perhaps, the cult has infiltrated to the Turkish Telecom company, as it infiltrated to some key government offices. This cult is no different than a malicious virus.

    Thus, after all of this, I asked a friend of mine to manage a website (not wordpress), http://www.yahyaharun.com, to expose the real motives and works of this cult, which is harming many bright young Turkish children of rich families.

    I stand by every statement I write and I never hide my name in my work. I am not scared of Turkish government nor the USA-Inc. I am a free-minded person and I support the freedom of expression of every idea, including those of my enemies. If you check the forums of http://www.19.org and its archives, you will see hundreds of criticism posted against my work and person; some even containing obscene insults against me.

    As a principle, I never use obscene language and I am mindful of the moral implications of accusing someone, including my enemies, falsely. As I said, my fight against this cult and its leader was initiated by Adnan, the so-called Yahya Harun, not me. I am a very busy person, and I wish my path was never crossed with that cult leader.

    I invite every rational freedom-lover to stand up against this cult for the following reasons:

    1. Adnan Oktar’s cult is a fascist organization.

    2. Adnan Oktar’s cult exploits young and gullible spiritually, emotionally, personally, and financially.

    3. Adnan Oktar’s cult isolates the children of wealthy people from their parents.

    4. Adnan Oktar’s cult uses black-mail and bribery to frustrate those who were harmed by the cult.

    5. Adnan Oktar’s cult promotes pseudoscience. For instance, it promotes false ideas about the theory of evolution.

    6. Adnan Oktar’s cult promotes racism, more specifically, anti-Jewish ideas.

    7. Adnan Oktar’s cult considers Adnan Oktar as the promised Mahdi (Muslim version of Messiah) and propagates silly stories fabricated in medieval times.

    8. Adnan Oktar’s cult exploits the work of cult members and puts the brand name “Harun Yahya” on all the books and videos.

    9. Adnan Oktar’s cult plagiarizes the work of others (including mine), and attributes them to Adnan Oktar under his pen name, Harun Yahya.

    10. To appeal masses, Adnan Oktar’s cult fakes as Sunni, yet among themselves they follow the cult’s rules.

    11. According to numerous reports, Adnan Oktar’s cult engages in group sex and promote anal sex with girls they consider “concubines”.

    12. Adnan Oktar’s cult uses money, political connections, and backward Turkish legal system to censor the former cult members to expose the secrets of the cult.

    Peace,
    Edip

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  22. Anthony north Says:

    Oktar’s control freak behaviour shows his lack of faith in Allah. His cult is definately not any form of orthodox Islam.
    So we have to ask Oktar and his cultist clones “Where is your God now, since you are in prison?”

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