Monday, May 09, 2005

IDers bring in Islamist journalist

Josh Funk of Knight-Ridder had this intriguing tidbit towards the end of his article on the third day of the evolution hearings.

One of the other witnesses was a Turkish newspaper columnist with no science background but a nearly 10-year-old interest in intelligent design. Mustafa Akyol testified that the naturalistic bias in Kansas' science standards contributes to the ill will between the Muslim world and the United States.

He urged the board to adopt the critical approach to help alleviate that ill will.

"This is not the only reason for anti-Westernism, but it is an important one," he said.

Tony Ortega's story on the Kansas hearings, in KC alternative weekly The Pitch “Your OFFICIAL program to the Scopes II Kansas Monkey Trial" discusses Akyol in detail.

[Akyol] also has identified himself as a spokesman for the murky Bilim Arastirma Vakfi, a group with an innocuous-sounding name — it means “Science Research Foundation” — but a nasty reputation.

Said to have started as a religious cult that preyed on wealthy members of Turkish society, the Bilim Arastirma Vakfi has appeared in lurid media tales about sex rings, a blackmail prosecution and speculation about its charismatic leader, a man named Adnan Oktar. 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.

Turkey is a secular country that aspires to join the European Union and boasts several institutions of higher learning on a par with good Western universities. But beginning in 1998, BAV spearheaded an effort to attack Turkish academics who taught Darwinian theory. Professors there say they were harassed and threatened, and some of them were slandered in fliers that labeled them “Maoists” for teaching evolution. In 1999, six of the professors won a civil court case against BAV for defamation and were awarded $4,000 each.
Ortega asked William Harris, the University of Missouri-Kansas City professor of medicine and point-man for the Kansas ID push, about the harrassment of Turkish scientists.
Told of the group’s harassment of biologists in Turkey and evolution’s defeat there, he replies, “Great! Congratulations! I mean, that is the point, once people start to see science more objectively.”
According to an article by Taner Edis, a Turkish-born physicist teaching at Truman State University, Askhol's movement is involved with anti-Semitism and holoccaust denial.
Another interesting difference from ICR emerges when BAV explains how a godless conspiracy established evolution. Much of what appears under the pseudonym Harun Yahya comes straight from Henry Morris, but it identifies the main forces behind evolution as Masons and Jews. This fits in with the all-too-common antisemitism among Islamists; indeed, Harun Yahya is also listed as the author of a book entitled The Holocaust Hoax, which borrows much from well-known American holocaust-deniers (Yahya nd). Bashing Masons may seem peculiar, but this is actually a common motif in Islamist tirades, where Freemasonry, as for many Christian conspiratologists in the past, serves as a symbol personifying the Enlightenment culture that helped to erode traditional religiosity. Usually the ancient enemies — the Jews, who refused to accept Muhammad as the final prophet — turn out to be behind Masonry, secularism, communism, and just about every godless evil.
The revisonist Institute for Historical Review gave a favorable review to the book.

A new revisionist book in Turkey has been receiving both warm praise and sharp criticism. Published in Istanbul, Soykirim Yalani ("Holocaust Deception") is the first book-length dissident study of the Holocaust issue to appear in the nation of some 64 million people...

Holocaust deception and fraud is the focus of the book's second section, which relies to a considerable extent on books and other material put out by the Institute for Historical Review, including the IHR Journal. This section traces the development and impact of Holocaust revisionism, showing how revisionist scholars have succeeded in debunking numerous Holocaust claims.

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