I was recently invited to fly to Istabul to interview Mr Adnan Oktar, also known as Harun Yahya, a Muslim who has published very many books challenging evolution, including, of course, his lavishly illustrated and produced Atlas of Creation, provided free to thousands of schools around the world.
I received a phone call from Mr Oktar's representative, Seda Aral, correcting "minsinformation" about Oktar, and explaining why his successful attempt to shut down Richard Dawkins website in Turkey was entirely justified. Oktar styles himself a defender of freedom of speech, and insists he was defamed.
Actually Oktar also attempted to get e.g. The God Delusion banned in Turkey, despite the fact that it says nothing about Oktar.
Dawkins explains why Oktar is a world-class nincompoop here. It's hilarious.
Despite the offer of an all-expenses-paid trip to Turkey as the guest of Mr Oktar, I'm not going.
It seems many others have received such offers, such as this writer for New Humanist (scroll down and you'll see one of the comments is from "Nathan" who also received an invitation). Oktar's budget for self-promotion seems to have no limits - as Dawkins points out, OUP estimated the cost of producing his Atlas at half a million quid. Where's the money coming from (there's a clue below)?
Why aren't I going? I am not nearly as well-known as Dawkins, of course, so I don't much mind appearing at low-key events such as this one in London, because I don't think I am providing much "oxygen of publicity", and may succeed in casting a few doubts into the minds of the audience.
However, Oktar is different - he's powerful and, I suspect, dangerous, and I wouldn't feel comfortable taking his money. The Dawkins episode is nothing compared to some of the other stuff it seems Oktar has got up to. He stands convicted by a Turkish court and faces a three year prison term. Oktar is appealing against the conviction. While this conviction has been reported in the West (see Reuters), the sheer scale of the various allegations being made against Oktar (in court and out) has not yet received much attention over here. To date, it's only the Dawkins website ban that's attracted interest.
For example, there have been some very serious allegations about cult activity:
Adnan Oktar (Harun Yahya) is a cult leader who have enslaved many children of rich and elite. His sexual and mental abuse of his subjects is a well known fact to Turkish people. His confession in police alone, which is corroborated by his former followers to details, is sufficient to put him behind bars. But so far, money, connections, blackmail and all the tricks available to his well-connected and super rich followers have kept him out of trouble. But his days are numbered and now there is a major case against him in Turkish courts for black mail and illegal activities.
Though Adnan is a lay person by academic standards, he is a gifted manipulator, a patient and highly skilled team manager: he uses various highly efficient psychological devises and marketing gimmicks to depict his image as a divinely ordained leader with a great mission. It would be in the best interest of the naïve and young pupils to join his cause, since soon he will be ruling the entire world and they would be his lucky and powerful aids. Besides, the cult provides a holy club for the children of the rich and well connected; they also get second-hand girls as a fringe benefit. In turn they lose their freedom and part of their identity; but we know that millions of people are ready to trade those precious rights and values to join a cult or a religious organization. Though the dates for victory he has given have been extended several times, who would not be the secretary or the spoke person of the long-awaited great ruler of the entire world?
Oktar insists he is simply the victim of conspiracy.
Oktar, also known as Adnan Hoca, was arrested after "Operation Adnan Hoca" which involved 2,000 Turkish police officers, according to this quite amazing story from the Turkish Daily News. It's long, but it's worth it - gun battles, sex, blackmail, conspiracies: it's got it all.
The Force Behind the Adnan Hoca Operation: Agar's Revenge
The Adnan Hoca operation, which involved 2,000 police officers and resulted in the apprehension of Adnan Hoca, has the support of two well-known politicians: Mehmet Agar and Celal Adan
Adnan Oktar, otherwise known as Adnan Hoca, and his disciples, who were taken into custody during a midnight operation last weekend, were the victims of a political struggle. Adnan Hoca's followers are members of the Science Research Foundation (BAV) and have been trying to take sides in the leadership contest going on in the True Path Party (DYP). About two months ago they engaged in a gun battle that featured three of Adnan Hoca's disciples on one side and DYP Deputy Celal Adan and his men on the other. The fight took place at the Ceylan Inter-Continental Hotel Istanbul and eventually ended in the police station. Celal Adan left the hotel in the car of independent Deputy Mehmet Agar, formerly of the DYP.
Adnan Hoca's followers were kept in custody for some time at the Beyoglu police station. Their statements that followed signalled a call to war.
In his statement, BAV General Secretary Bahadir Guven accused Celal Adan and Mehmet Agar in uncompromising terms, insisting that these two politicians were behind all the dark relationships in Turkey. Guven said that when they realized there was a partnership between Adan and Agar and that the two intended to overthrow DYP leader Tansu Ciller they tried to stop this conspiracy, at which point they were confronted with a gunfight. Guven also suggested, that Agar, as many people suspect, is the "patron of Susurluk," the 1996 automobile crash that led to the revelation of relations between the government, the police and criminal elements.
After the press reported on the "Gunfight at a Luxury Hotel" the two sides kept silent. This silence was broken last weekend when the Istanbul police carried out their unusual operation.
Nearly 2,000 policemen conducted simultaneous raids in 40 districts across Istanbul. Their goal was to take Adnan Oktar and his disciples into custody. The centers of the raids were Aktar's villa at Kandilli and his estate at Silivri. In all, police searched 38 houses belonging to Adnan Hoca and took everyone they found there into custody -- including Adnan Hoca himself, who had not been seen in public for six years. Oktar's appearance had changed during this time; he had put on weight to resemble opera singer Lucian Pavarotti, who might not be pleased with the comparison.
The actual residences where Adnan Hoca and his disciples had been living were another point of interest. Surprisingly, the woodland villas in Kandilli and Silivri were decorated in the opulent style of the Dolmabahce Palace. The Kandilli villa was actually a complex, consisting of two separate buildings and a total 13 rooms. Inside three iron gates is a small grove, secured by hidden cameras and Dobermans. The police participating in the Silivri operation were treated to an even more unusual sight. The estate, which served as a summer residence for Hoca and his followers, resembled a zoo, complete with camels, horses and two artificial lakes.
The stated reason behind the roundup of Hoca and his followers was blackmail. The group is claimed to have used hidden cameras to capture politicians and performing artists. The resulting tapes are said to have trickled down to some in the right-wing parties.
Is it true that the raids on Hoca's villas, referred to in the press as "the snake's headquarters," were ordered by Interior Minister Sadettin Tantan? Even the police who took part in the operation do not know the answer to this question because they weren't informed about where they were going until the last minute. Istanbul Police Chief Hasan Ozdemir directed the operation himself, delivering envelopes to his immediate subordinates on which were written the instructions, "Open during the operation." Special efforts were made to prevent news from leaking out to Oktar and his followers because the police department didn't trust some of its own members. Those who were responsible for the operation and who knew about the close links between Adnan Hoca and his disciples and high-level police chiefs and politicians chose to behave this way.
The timing of the operation, which included top models and famous performing artists, also received attention. Why did they take Hoca's disciples into custody now, when they had known for a long time about the allegations of blackmail?
The answer to this question lies in the gunfight that took place at the Ceylan Inter-Continental Hotel Istanbul two months ago. The struggle between the two groups within the DYP lit the fuse for the operation. Adnan Hoca and his disciples were supporting Tansu Ciller and collecting confidential information on her rivals. The Adnan Hoca group, working as an organization, had a wealth of surveillance equipment ranging from hidden cameras disguised as buttons to high-tech eavesdropping equipment. The partnership between Tansu Ciller and her group and Adnan Hoca and his group began when Ciller began benefiting from Oktar's "professionalism." Among the many claims about this partnership is that Ciller had made promises to Adnan Hoca's group regarding the next elections in exchange for the work they were doing for her.
Unsettled as a result of this specialized work undertaken by Hoca and his followers, Adan and Agar, as opponents of Ciller, took on the roles of leaders in the anti-Hoca operation. The two men secretly prepared a report on Adnan Hoca's activities and turned it over to Interior Minister Tantan. The report detailed the illegal activities of the group, making reference to a rich archive of material to be used in blackmail. This included videotapes of many of the politicians and businessmen in Turkey having illicit sex. Filmed by hidden cameras over the course of several years and transferred to CDs, the documents are supposed to have been invaluable to Hoca's disciples, who are claimed to have used them to put pressure on important politicians.
Interior Minister Tantan, who took office asserting that his main goal would be to totally wipe out crime, instructed the Istanbul police chief to destroy Adnan Hoca's group. While these developments were taking place in Ankara very secretly, another development was taking place at the Istanbul State Security Court (DGM). DYP Istanbul parliamentarian Celal Adan applied to the DGM public prosecutor to begin criminal proceedings. The incidents progressed as Adan and Agar wished. All of Adnan Hoca and his group's secrets came out in public. The group, which had become a sex and blackmail team, were questioned for days, with two extensions of the legal custody period.
As the questioning continued in Istanbul, repercussions were heard in Ankara. A group supposedly complained to President Suleyman Demirel, asking why this operation had not taken place earlier. Demirel himself did not approve of the timing of the operation, which was attracting so much attention on the eve of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) summit in Istanbul.
It is also being claimed that National Movement Party (MHP) Deputy Mehmet Gul, who is well-known for his close relationship with the Adnan Hoca group, complained to MHP party leader Devlet Bahceli that the operation could destroy the coalition government. In addition to reaching the heights of the Presidential Palace and causing tension between the MHP and the Motherland Party (ANAP), the operation also touched on Necmettin Erbakan, the former leader of the Welfare Party (RP) and spiritual leader of the Islamists.
It is known that Erbakan's son Fatih has close links with the Adnan Hoca group and that the former RP leader himself had often met with Adnan Hoca. The press provided additional evidence of this close relationship. The Erbakan-Adnan Hoca was particularly obvious when the daily Milli Gazette, Erbakan's mouthpiece, published articles criticizing the operation against Adnan Hoca under such headlines as "Slander and Mudslinging Campaign."
Application for criminal procedures from Mazlum-Der
Aside from the criticism in Milli Gazete there was a response from Mazlum-Der. Yilmaz Ensaroglu, the head of the Islamist human rights association, criticized the police operation against Adnan Hoca at a press conference, questioning its legality:
"The operation against BAV does not have any legal basis because there is no concrete accusation against BAV. The police conducted detailed searches in the houses of people related to BAV, but all they found were lots of computers, documentary video cassettes, a couple of licensed guns and some cultural publications. On the other hand, certain newspapers are asking their readers to file complaints against BAV on behalf of the Istanbul Chief of Police. The crime that did not exist is being created through advertisements, invitations and threats."
Ensaroglu: 'It could be a masonic conspiracy'
Ensaroglu pointed out that Oktar, who was the honorary chairman of the BAV, had been associated with other conspiracies in the past. "It is a very well-known fact that Adnan Oktar's works on Freemasonry and Zionism have disturbed certain people for a long time," Ensaroglu said. "And it is also known that these people have constantly carried out propaganda and conspiracies against BAV and Adnan Oktar. One of the most concrete examples of this is the cocaine conspiracy of 1991. At the time, an unexpected and sudden raid led to Oktar being kept under custody for 62 hours, and, after being taken to Forensic Medicine, it was confirmed that cocaine was detected in his blood. However, in the following months, it was confirmed by 24 different international medical institutions that the cocaine was given to Oktar in the food and drink he consumed while he was in custody. Later, Forensic Medicine admitted this, and Oktar was acquitted."
Ensaroglu also called on the public to be sensitive towards these embarrassing and illegal operations that were taking place just as the major OSCE summit was about to take place.
Babuna: 'I have no connection'
Among those whose houses were raided as part of the operation against Adnan Hoca and his followers was Dr. Oktar Babuna, who reached public notoriety through the nationwide blood donor campaign he initiated after it was discovered he had leukemia. It was claimed that Babuna, who had returned to Turkey from the United States after being cured of cancer, had for a time been one of Adnan Hoca's disciples. Based on these claims, Babuna's house was included in the police raid. However, Babuna stated during a press conference that while he had seen Adnan Oktar once or twice he was not one of his disciples. On the other hand, there were claims that not only Dr. Babuna but his brother and father, Professor Cevat Babuna, were also among Adnan Hoca's disciples. Furthermore, it was being claimed that Adnan Hoca and his disciples had actually organized the Babuna blood donation campaign, which earned them trillions of lira.
Statement from the Science Research Foundation
A statement released by the BAV included the following claims:
The houses [that were raided] do not belong to Adnan Hoca. The house and the estate raided by the police do not belong to Adnan Oktar, they belong to wealthy members of the foundation. Adnan Hoca was giving a speech at the house in Beylerbeyi on the night of the operation.
The items in the houses in Beylerbeyi and Silivri display a sense of aesthetics that aims to raise national values. The existence of the statues, the imperial signatures belonging to the Ottoman Empire, the imperial edicts and the gilded objects are not a reflection of tastelessness but a reminder of the flamboyance of Ottoman-Turkish culture.
It is slander to say that there were cassettes to be used for blackmail. After inspection, it will be shown that the video cassettes and computer disks do not contain any compromising material.
The claims about sex parties are also slanderous. The female members of the foundation are such virtuous and honorable women that such immoral actions could have no connection with reality.
The statement denies the claims related to cocaine as well, indicating that Adnan Hoca instilled patriotism and moral values in many young people. The cocaine reportedly found in Adnan Hoca's blood in 1991 was given to him through food and drink while in custody.