Sunday, 4 January 2009

Oktar and the Guardian - the story told by the comments

Following a discussion on our forum here is a summary from BalbKubrox of the recent discussion in the Guardian;
It started with an interview accorded by the great man to the Guardian religious correspondent Riazat Butt on 20 or 21 December at an undisclosed location in the suburbs of Istanbul: the gated development where Oktar hangs out in a heavily guarded flat furnished (to judge from the accompanying photo) rather like Gracelands. Ms. Butt plainly did her best to be sympathetic, but Oktar still emerges from the interview as not only just about as daft as a mortal creature can be, but also decidedly sinister and surrounded by menacing acolytes. As to the intellectual level of his remarks, one quote will suffice:

"There is not one single fossil showing that humans evolved. For example, a 100-million-year-old crocodile, it didn't transform into a professor after a while." 

The subsequent blog extended over an entire week and although it was quite entertaining and even a bit enlightening over the first three days or so - the Christmas holiday here so people had time on their hands - later on degenerated into the usual personal slanging match between three or four obsessives. As for the pro-Oktar contributors, the tone of their remarks is pretty well summed up by the first post, from one Melis:

This is a great interview! Mr. Adnan Oktar (Harun Yahya) is a very well known author in Turkey. He has been the means to make people realize this lie of evolution or graduation throughout our country; as well as all around the world. Now, not only adults but school children are also not believing that human beings have any connection with apes. Just looking at a few fossils and seeing that the animals and plants have not changed for hundreds of millions of years is enough to see this fact. I hope the world will realize this truth as soon as possible, it is surely to their own benefit. I thank him for displaying his entire books free of charge at his website. 

and by (almost) the last, from muguette:

It is obvious that the correspondent named Riazat Butt did not make this interview after a through research about the author. If she did, she'd probably not write such a subjective article and make any comments as we see in the last paragraph. First of all a person like her should respect people fulfilling their religious obligations. But may be we should excuse her because of her Hindu background, knowing not enough about Islam. THat is surely what befalls to a Muslim. 

So nothing unfamiliar here: Muslim variants of the standard Christian Creationist arguments that (i) it's true because I say it is and (ii) people who criticise Creationism are disqualified from doing so by the fact of their not being bible-believing Christians. What was quite interesting however - and not a little disturbing - was the intervention after a day or so of posters like scientifique who appeared not to be Oktar henchmen but scientifically literate Turks studying in France who'd apparently stumbled across the debate rather than having been put up to taking part in it. ElliottCB, gpwayne, myself and a host of other bloggers tried to enter into some sort of rational debate with these people, and for a while it looked as though we might be getting somewhere. But in the end Turkish patriotism seems to have triumphed and they left in a huff saying that we were all being beastly to this great Turkish thinker.

Of Christian anti-evolution contributors there was only one, roomwithaview, who turns up regularly on other Guardian blogs and seems to have wider mental issues.

All rather depressing really, to see so many stone-deaf people with LOUD VOICES. But several of us did point out gently that Muslim small-c creationists and Christian big-C ones make uncomfortable bedfellows, because not only do our fundies believe that all Muslims are going to Hell when they die, they don't even agree on the "science" such as the age of the Earth. I hope that a little of this information managed to sink in.

The only new element in any of this was the Turkish slant. The Turkish students' society at our local university seems to contain a number of rather disturbing people, to go by the blood-curdling threats they leave on toilet walls, and although so far as I'm aware they haven't signed up yet for Adnan Oktar, if they did then they might be very militant supporters indeed. Part of Oktar's pitch, after all, is the same as theirs: that there is a hierarchy among humans with Turks at the top and Jews, Greeks, Armenians and other riff-raff at the bottom.

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