What Happened to Turkish Creationists — The Nemesis of Richard Dawkins?

Back in 2018, I attended an international creation conference in Istanbul, Turkey, held by a group of Turkish creationists that operated under the Technics & Science Research Foundation. Also known as Adnan Oktar (aka Harun Yahya) and his friends, the group came to international prominence after Oktar penned the famous ‘Atlas of Creation’, which was sent to academics all around the world. This book featured thousands of fossils that were exactly the same as their counterparts living today and brutally smashed the idea of evolution by showing that animals were the same as they were “millions of years” ago. Oktar was an effective figure promoting creationism in the Islamic world, and one who challenged evolutionist Richard Dawkins to a public debate back in 2008.

Back to the conference: It was a success. It was the third edition of the same conference, where prestigious scientists from all around the world came and explained the facts of creation using evidence from their areas of specialization: an American Evangelical theologian, three American Evangelical scientists, an Italian sociologist, a German philosopher, and a Turkish brain surgeon, all explained the fact that “the whole universe was created by God in a complex way, without any room for coincidence.” After the conference, there were interviews which were broadcast on Turkish television and YouTube. The members of the group were modern-looking, respected, friendly, distinguished, qualified Muslims. They respected women’s rights, science, art, music, and argued that terrorism and radicalism have absolutely no place in real Islam. They took us to thousands-of-years-old churches, to Sunday conversations with Turkish Christian preachers. To get to know them was a truly nice experience for me as a Christian.

Then, a couple of months later, one day in July 2018, I heard that around 200 people from the group were arrested and sent to prison. I was shocked beyond belief. I knew these people. What could have possibly happened? I found out that they were accused of almost every crime described in the books from spying for Israel to money laundering, to forming a criminal organization. I had a hard time believing that this could be the same nice people that welcomed me, that preached creation with great enthusiasm. The amount of accusations seemed to be a surefire way of keeping them away for a long time and seizing everything they had. In addition, all of their creation-promoting websites and books (including “Pleasant words from the Gospel” and “Love in the Gospel”) were shut down, with no explanation as to why they have been found “illegal”! The judge wanted an unbelievable sentence of 10,000 years for the author Adnan Oktar and varying sentences for all of the other defendants. After 3,5 years, 83 of them are still in prison today.

When I researched a bit, I saw that there were only accusations and no evidence to prove they have actually done any of the illegal crimes. They had been under police surveillance for two years. But there was no incriminating evidence such as phone records, videos showing illicit activity. Only statements from complainants who claimed they were wronged by the group. Even their exchanges with Christians and Jews on their TV channel were portrayed as spying. It appears that they have been arrested for fabricated reasons and convicted on fictional grounds as a result of the provocations inflicted by certain groups who react to their ideas and lifestyle for religious and political reasons.

For readers who want to be updated on important issues that may have been left in ignorance due to long distances, I would like to bring this topic to the attention of Americans that care for others who seek democracy, freedoms and justice in another part of the world.

Recently, I have been provided with an independent organization’s trial observation report on the group’s court case, which confirms the court’s unacceptable bias against the group and the unlawful acts restricting their rights and freedoms:    

According to the UK-based “The Solicitors International Human Rights Group” (SIHRG), who observed the trial:

 “…this “trial” was not a fair one by any standard.”

“It is with reluctance that I even use the word “trial” to describe a process that was uninterested in defense evidence or arguments and was manifestly determined to convict the defendants, sentence them to lengthy terms of imprisonment and thus utterly crush the movement.”

“…that the whole trial process was a perversion of justice.”

“…I have concluded that the process failed to comply with the internationally recognized principle of legal certainty.”

“…The Judges were not impartial. They were evidently biased against the vast majority of defendants. This was evidenced by a range of breaches of fair trial rights including denial of defense witnesses, intimidating defense lawyers, providing insufficient time to present defenses etc.”

“…the judge continuously pushed the defendants when giving evidence to hurry them up, confuse and frighten them.”

“…The defense lawyers being sent out of court by the Judge and abuse of them by the Judge shouting. Their microphones were frequently switched off and attempts by defense lawyers to defend their clients were frequently shut down by the Judge.”

“…The circumstances surrounding the exceptional or special appointment of the judges when considered together with their obviously bias conduct against the Defendants we regard as powerful evidence showing partiality and a breach of the right to the Defendants to a fair hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law.”

“…The Judge was observed to be consistently aggressive and obstructive towards defense lawyers whilst being obliging to the complainants’ lawyers.”

“The Public Prosecutor persistently denied lawyers and defendants access to court files. The indictments were not issued to them for twelve months after their arrests. The document was 4,000 pages long and served just two months before the trial.”

The Report is published on the website of the International Association of Judges: link to report here

This is sad. They were nice, young, energetic people full of life and so much potential. They knew about the fact of creation and were eager to show to the rest of the world that science proves the existence of God. I never believed that the nice people that I met and knew could do such things. I have found that they have appealed the court’s verdict and the appeal court is expected to issue its verdict soon. I hope that the group will be cleared soon of these charges and will continue with their amazing creationist works. I wish for a world where ideas are respected, and nobody is persecuted for their beliefs.

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