Tuesday, August 21, 2007

More about Wordpress

Why Wordpress.com was banned in Turkey- reason unveiled

Aug 20th, 2007 by turkishdigestEdit

As many of you may have heard, last Friday the 17th, it was revealed that access to all Wordpress.com sites from Turkey was banned. When I first heard about it, I asked my friends to check my own website We are the Turks hosted by Wordpress, to determine whether this was true. They told me the following was coming up on the screen:
"Access to this site has been suspended in accordance with decision no: 2007/195 of T.C. Fatih 2.Civil Court of First Instance"

I did some research and did not find much over the weekend regarding the reason, but finally this morning the mystery curtain was lifted.

Matt Mullenweg, the founding developer of WordPress made this announcement, where he's asking the opinion of Wordpress community as to what they think should be done?
Apparently this is what happened: the attorneys of the cult leader Adnan Oktar aka Harun Yahya, a 51 year old former interior design student known in Turkey as "Adnan Hoca", who founded in 1990 the foundation known as BAV (Bilim Arastirma Vakfi-Scientific Research Foundation), had applied to Wordpress for removal of what they described as "unlawful statements regarding their client". "As most of our attempts were unanswered" alleged the attorneys, they applied to Turkish judicial courts "to stop the defamation executed through Wordpress services". Hence, by the decision of Fatih 2nd Civil Court of First Instance, number 2007/195, access to Wordpress.com was then blocked in Turkey by TTNET, an Internet network that covers all Turkey.

We learned that the sites which Adnan Oktar's attorneys wanted removed are run by an Islamic Reformer Edip Yuksel, who wrote an article criticizing Oktar and his movement where he seems to be trying to expose Oktar and his followers as a fundamentalist movement with dark secrets. Edip Yuksel published this message of rebuttal.
Started as a religious cult that preyed on wealthy members of Turkish society, the BAV has appeared in lurid media tales about sex rings, a blackmail prosecution and speculation about its charismatic leader. But if BAV's notoriety has been burnished by a sensationalist Turkish media, the secretive group has earned its reputation as a prodigious publisher of inexpensive ideological paperbacks. BAV has put out hundreds of titles written by "Harun Yahya" (a pseudonym) on various topics, but most of them are Islamic-based attacks on the theory of evolution. His book, Atlas Of Creation, decrying evolution is now aggressively promoted well beyond the borders of Turkey to the Middle East, Europe, and even the United States. The book is turning up, unsolicited, in the mailboxes of scientists and members of the US Congress, and at science museums around USA. In France, the Harun Yahya book offensive led the government to issue a warning for schools to be on the look out for the "Atlas" before it makes it into their classrooms. Meanwhile, the increasing European activity of BAV, as well as of Christian creationist groups, recently prompted a committee of the Council of Europe – a 47-nation group that acts as a kind of continental watchdog – to issue a report strongly warning about its dangers to education.

The lavishly illustrated 800-page book is one of the most significant creationist challenge to Charles Darwin's theory, which Yahya calls a feeble and perverted ideology contradicted by the Koran. The books are slick, but BAV has had plenty of help. Creationism in Turkey got key support in the 1980s and 1990s from American creationist organizations, and BAV's Yahya books resemble the same sorts of works put out by California's Institute for Creation Research. Except in Yahya's books, it's Allah that's doing the creating. Unlike fundamentalist Christian creationists, Oktar does not claim the earth was created only a few thousand years ago. Instead, he argues that fossils show that creatures from millions of years ago looked just like the creatures of today, thus disproving evolution. Also, Oktar's brand of creationism is not only religious, but political and even messianic, seeing most of the world's ills – terrorism and fascism among them – as stemming from Darwin's theory of evolution. In 2001, Science magazine called BAV "one of the world's strongest anti-evolution movements outside of North America".
Edezu'scomment to Matt's post, really sums the man and his works:

Greetings.

I'm writing from Turkey and thought that some info on this person may be helpful.
Adnan Oktar is a religious zealot who launched a campaign against the Darwinian theory of evolution, maybe a decade ago. He has written a number of books, which, despite being worthless and even funny by scientific standards, attracted the attention of religious people. In those fundamentalist circles, he is revered as the "destroyer" of evolutionary theory as the majority of islamists consider Darwinian evolution as a refuted theory thanks to his books.
As expected, his books and the ideas in them are worthless, mistaken, false, consisting of arguments refuted even by Darwin himself 140 years ago. Alas, he is a wealthy and powerful person, thus capable of reaching many people, by sending free copies of his huge books to every school, teacher, and university. Sadly, as the public he tries to reach is mostly uneducated, his words are taken to be the truth.
As a result of this, Turkish intellectuals and those of us lucky enough to get a secular education, with an understanding of what science is, and what an argument is, are giving his ideas what they deserve. He is respected in religious circles, but ridiculed in the Internet.
This person's current strategy is to block all the sites which attacks him and his ideas. A few months ago, he made a similar move and blocked "eksi sozluk", an open dictionary which is, in my opinion, a bastion of free speech in Turkish online media, with more than 10.000 writers and about 2.000 entries each day.
Adnan Oktar is taking advantage of the gaps in Turkish laws on the Internet, which are sadly on their infancy, to silence all the voices against him. Internet poses a real threat to people like him, where ideas are exposed, and people read them!
As a philosophy graduate who take active interest in evolution-creationism debate, and as a Turkish citizen with the ideal of freedom in the online world, I suggest NOT to cooperate with this person.

We will reach our blogs anyway

All similar fundamental movements are run by extremely wealthy men, which leads to
speculations as to the source of their wealth. Another such character is Fethullah Gulen, but we'll look into his activities in another post. Incidentally, all these Islamic fundamentalist movements gained importance after AKP came into power. More reason for secularists like myself to worry about the future of Turkey.

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