Turkish televangelist Adnan Oktar

Ambassador of Islamic Creationism

The incarceration of televangelist Adnan Oktar has made headlines in Turkey. Since the early 1980s, Oktar, a controversial figure in his native Turkey, has been spreading his views of Islam, a brand of Islamic Creationism. He has promoted his theories by distributing thousands of copies of his book "The Atlas of Creation" and, until recently, on his own television channel. Hakim Khatib takes a closer look at an outlandish character who has been described as the "most notorious cult leader in Turkey"

On 11 July 2018, Turkish police detained the cult leader televangelist Adnan Oktar along with 234 people associated with him over accusations including forming a criminal gang, fraud and sexual abuses.

The Istanbul police raided 120 residences and offices after criminal complaints filed by multiple plaintiffs, whose ages range from 11 to 40 years old.

Turkish televangelist Adnan Oktar has blamed the "British deep state" over his detention in Istanbul along with dozens of his followers.

Who is Adnan Oktar?

As a cult leader, Oktar is more known for his TV shows with women [lit. Harem] than his intellectual contribution, but this is not all.

The arrest of Adnan Oktar in Istanbul (photo: picture-allince/AA)
Accused of fraud, sexual abuse and membership of a criminal organisation, Adnan Oktar and 234 others associated with him were arrested by Turkish police on 11 July. Oktar, who also goes by the pen name Harun Yahya, has his own television channel, A9, on which he appears surrounded by heavily made-up female devotees known as "kittens", and claims to have produced over 300 books in Turkish

Oktar was born on 2 February 1956 in Ankara, Turkey. He is a creationist writer and has produced numerous conspiracy theory-filled books on creationism and freemasonry under the name Harun Yahya, which is derived from Oktar's prophets, Aaron and Yahya.

In 2006, Oktar wrote the Atlas of Creation, arguing that Darwin's theory of evolution is at the root of global terrorism. According to Oktar, evolution is an evil teaching linked directly to materialism, Nazism, communism and Buddhism.

Many of Oktar's claims are similar to the fundamentalist Christian Creationism but with a more nonsensical absurdity. He claims on his website that he has written more than 300 books translated into 73 languages.

Along with his community of followers, he has been busy refuting atheism, Darwinism and Zionism over the past years. Supported by the Science Research Foundation (BAV), which is known for its anti-evolution and advocacy of creationism, Oktar has been able to publish a periodical in the BAV sponsored Millî Gazete and to organise conferences to promote this position.

Oktar studied at the Interior Architecture Department of the State Fine Arts Academy in Istanbul in 1979. He dropped from school after a while, and then entered the Philosophy and History Department at Istanbul University, which he has also left halfway.

Unconventional methods for conventional thinking

Oktar hosts talk show programmes on his television channel, A9, on which he discusses Islamic values and occasionally dances with young women he calls "kittens" and sings with young men he calls his "lions". On his programme Oktar surrounds himself with women while discussing religious and social issues to promote creationism.

He has been described in different spectrums of the Turkish media as the "most notorious cult leader in Turkey".

In February 2018, Turkey's television watchdog suspended Oktar's television programme, which blends theological discussions and dancing on the ground of violating gender equality and women's rights.

The controversial TV personality has entered into a war of words with the head of Turkey's Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) following the latter's criticism on 31 January 2018.

In the meantime, several fathers and siblings of Oktar's Harem have filed court complaints against him.

Hakim Khatib

© MPC Journal 2018

Hakim Khatib studied political science of the Middle East, European Studies, journalism and linguistics. He has been lecturing at different German universities since 2011 on issues related to ideology and the interplay of power thereof in socio-political life, and religion and its relationship to contemporary politics in the regions of West Asia and North Africa, especially Egypt and Syria. He has also been the editor-in-chief of the Mashreq Politics & Culture Journal (MPC Journal) since 2014.

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