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Letter to the European Parliament on Turkey's banning of - Comments

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 1 by Richard Dawkins

Sophie in 't Veld is a Dutch Member of the European Parliament (MEP). Keith Porteous Wood, of the British National Secular Society, should be credited with calling her attention to this affair and urging her to write her letter. He spoke to me about her on the telephone this morning. She is evidently a hero of rational thought in European politics.


Mon, 24 Nov 2008 10:49:00 UTC | #276033

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 2 by mordacious1


Mon, 24 Nov 2008 10:55:00 UTC | #276039

Caudimordax's Avatar Comment 3 by Caudimordax

Red Alert! Prepare for assault by trollish minions.

Good to see that this is being objected to out in the real world.

Mon, 24 Nov 2008 10:58:00 UTC | #276044

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 4 by mordacious1

I hope the reply is posted here, it would be interesting to read.

Mon, 24 Nov 2008 11:00:00 UTC | #276045

NewEnglandBob's Avatar Comment 5 by NewEnglandBob


Here is to hoping that the MEP will see how irrational the Turkish court has been due to the actions of the inane convicted criminal Adnan Oktar and hold up membership of Turkey until the court corrects this injustice against reason.

Mon, 24 Nov 2008 11:03:00 UTC | #276046

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Comment 6 by God fearing Atheist

"Fuckwit cocks-up Turkish membership of EU" Brilliant!

Mon, 24 Nov 2008 11:09:00 UTC | #276051

Roger Stanyard's Avatar Comment 7 by Roger Stanyard

This is a big step in the right direction. Fundamentalists have used the legal system in the past to do serious damage to those that criticise them.

It's worth taking a look at how the Australian fundamentalists and creationists tried to destroy Ian Plimer in the 1990s. They very nearly bankrupted him. Like Richard, Plimer is a high profile academic (he's probably the leading geologist in Australia) and has been highly critical of creationists.

Ian might want to speak for himself but it gives me the distinct impression that he was forced out of criticising the creationists because they nearly bankrupted him in civil court cases.

IIR Adnan Oktar has used civil law before to stop public criticisms of his behaviour and activities.

Oktar is no minnow in the creationst movement, btw.

Mon, 24 Nov 2008 11:25:00 UTC | #276059

dead Yeti's Avatar Comment 8 by dead Yeti

I read the letter and the first thing that came to my mind was to foward it to the MEPs from my are to see if they can add some more wieght to the cause.
But it turns out that they are both Christian democrats (never really paid much attention to Euro politics before) do you think i can trust them to be rational or do you think they will see the name Dawkins and come round my house to 'Witness'

for the record my MEPs are

Mr John Bowis OBE
Mr Syed Kamall

both look a lot less evolved than Sophie in 't Veld

Mon, 24 Nov 2008 11:40:00 UTC | #276072

Roger Stanyard's Avatar Comment 9 by Roger Stanyard

dead Yeti - might be a problem but in general British MEPs are usually very lonely people when it comes to their constituents. They may well be keen to do anything to help you.

Mon, 24 Nov 2008 11:57:00 UTC | #276078

cam9976's Avatar Comment 10 by cam9976

If there's one thing that the Turks want more than anything else it's admittance into the EU... Hopefully the desire to join the EU will trigger an immediate response from Ankara and the website will be un-censored.

Mon, 24 Nov 2008 12:03:00 UTC | #276083

milhouse's Avatar Comment 11 by milhouse

YES! Let's campaign in the same way the fundies would. Well, by "campaign", I mean write a short email encouraging our MEPs to add to the pressure. You can find out who your MEP is here:

I have the same local members as you, dead Yeti. I wouldn't be too disheartened by them being a member of the "Christian Democrat" group - it's just the pan-european party grouping the Tories fall into.

There are 9 MEPs for London. Taking just the first one, Batten, the UKIP member, he has raised the issue of funding for religious groups by the European Institutions a few times. Reasons to be cheerful!

Mon, 24 Nov 2008 12:04:00 UTC | #276086

Vaal's Avatar Comment 12 by Vaal

Good news. Now, if we can get our MP's to lobby against the insidious attack on the 1948 UN human rights declaration by Muslim states who are surreptitiously attempting to mandate criticising religion as illegal, then I feel that sites like this are doing the right job, and getting the message across.

This is the main reason I joined RD Net, to ensure that the creeping tide of religious fundamentalism that seems to be pervading our world, and particularly our schools, is arrested. It needs to be robustly debated and contested, otherwise we will allow the enlightenment to slip through our fingers, with hardly a yelp, and wonder, what on earth happened.

Mon, 24 Nov 2008 12:24:00 UTC | #276099

RichardofYork's Avatar Comment 13 by RichardofYork

Rational thought in politics? how very novel

Mon, 24 Nov 2008 12:26:00 UTC | #276102

gazzaofbath's Avatar Comment 14 by gazzaofbath

Could be worth a try - I bet most British MEPs are gasping for a letter from a constituent not going on about the Common Agricultural Policy. It might just tickle their fancy having something different like this.

Mon, 24 Nov 2008 12:27:00 UTC | #276103

dead Yeti's Avatar Comment 15 by dead Yeti

here's my letter:

Dear Mr Kamall

i am writing to inform you of a letter sent by one of your fellow MEPs Sophie in 't Veld,3369,Letter-to-the-European-Parliament-on-Turkeys-banning-of-RichardDawkinsnet,Sophie-in-t-Veld-MEP,page1#289928 on the issue of Turkey's banning of certain websites (Dawkins, youtube,etc), i was wondering where you as my local MEP (I live in Kingston upon Thames) stand on Turkey's application and the compromising of freedom of speech and expression, after all as a MEP you will be responsible for all EU citizens not just us lucky folks in the UK.

I believe freedom to be the one of the most important things in the world and a right of every human being whether they're religious, atheist, male, female, and feel sure anyone capable of becoming a MEP will feel the same

Hope to hear from you or a member of your staff soon,

and if you ever in the Wheelwright arms ask for Darren (they all know me there)I'll buy you pint



Mon, 24 Nov 2008 12:30:00 UTC | #276105

popeye's Avatar Comment 16 by popeye

I do not know the process to be admitted to the EU, however, what would happen if they allow freedom of expression until they are admitted to the EU and then do a similar banning after being granted membership in the EU? Would Turkey then be kicked out of the EU, or would the EU not even allow such an action?

Mon, 24 Nov 2008 12:32:00 UTC | #276106

Roger Stanyard's Avatar Comment 17 by Roger Stanyard

Popeye - I'm not a lawyer and have very limited knowledge of European Union law but the basic principal of EU membership is that a state must incorporate EU Aquis into its domestic law and operate as a fully fledged democracy. If it falls down on the latter it can, indeed, be kicked out.

The aquis is supposed to be incorprated before or at the time of joining the EU. If the Aquis is over-written or ignored there is resort to EU law and law courts. EU law oversides national law.

Mon, 24 Nov 2008 12:42:00 UTC | #276113

polestar's Avatar Comment 18 by polestar

Comment #289964 by Roger Stanyard "...If it falls down on the latter it can, indeed, be kicked out."
Alas, so corrupt and unaccountable a mandarinate as the EU is well versed in doublespeak - after all, the mafia-run Bulgaria was admitted and remains a member, in the hope that they can be dragged towards the rule of law. The EU Parliament (really an assembly, not a parliament) has very little power over any of this.

Comment #289933 by cam9976 "If there's one thing that the Turks want more than anything else it's admittance into the EU." There are also powerful vested interests in Turkey against EU membership, ranging from nationalists to Islamists.

Mon, 24 Nov 2008 12:55:00 UTC | #276124

Supreme Boeing's Avatar Comment 19 by Supreme Boeing

I'm going to vote for her, both because of her stance on digital issues, and, well, this is also a digital issue...

Mon, 24 Nov 2008 13:07:00 UTC | #276133

Fuller's Avatar Comment 20 by Fuller

Turkey is at a crucial fork in the road currently. One path leads to the secular society that many are fighting for (and by extension, acceptance in to the EU), the other road - well, don't go down that road. Lotta history down that road...

Mon, 24 Nov 2008 14:02:00 UTC | #276196

Roger Stanyard's Avatar Comment 21 by Roger Stanyard

Polestar - of course. The whole EU thing is somewhat of a fudge between disparet nation states. It doesn't help that the further one goes East, the more chaotic the countries are.

Fuller - Turkey has been a secular state since the days of Ataturk. Technically it is considerably more secular than the UK. Turks are much more liberal about religion that is the case in many other Muslim areas and at least one major branch of Islam there is exceedingly liberal by any standards.

I guess that Turkey's political problem is that it has not sufficiently moved on from Ataturkism.

I don't think Europe is in a good position to start slinging mud at Turkey. The last time I counted there were 44 nation states in Europe. Of those only six (I think *) have had a continuos history of democracy since the days of Ataturk (i.e. within living memory).

* Iceland, Ireland, the UK, Switzerland, Sweden and Finland.

Mon, 24 Nov 2008 14:31:00 UTC | #276208

milhouse's Avatar Comment 22 by milhouse

I've sent the email to a few MEPs. Included amongst the London MEPs are:
- 3 subs on the subcommittee on human rights
- 1 sub on the EU-Turkey joint subcommittee
- 2 subs and one full member on the Civil Liberties subcommittee
- 1 vice chairperson of the Human Rights Subcommittee and member of the Civil Liberties sc.

So some relevant experience there.

Incidentally, the letter to Ollie Hahn is available in PDF form from the National Secular Society website.

Here's what I wrote:

I'm writing a quick email to you as one of my MEP's and as a member of the Subcommittee on Human Rights.

My attention was drawn by articles on the websites of The National Secular Society and Richard Dawkins to an open letter (attached) written by an MEP to the Commissioner for Enlargement, regarding a Turkish judge's decision to ban the website from Turkish Internet users. I was hoping you might add your weight to the call for this action to be condemned, and more tolerance to be shown to differing views.

If Turkey is to join the EU it needs to adopt European common standards on freedom of speech, civil liberties and human rights, and I am hopeful that the prospect of becoming a Union member will add strength to those who want to continue their history of being a secular state.

The decision as it stands sets a worrying precedent for the censorship of views in a country aspiring to become full EU members, and I hope you will support moves to get it quashed soon.


Mon, 24 Nov 2008 15:58:00 UTC | #276247

fatcitymax's Avatar Comment 23 by fatcitymax

Why the outrage? Europeans should be delighted that the Turks are so stupid. Do you really want more Muslims in Europe?

Mon, 24 Nov 2008 16:23:00 UTC | #276258

j.mills's Avatar Comment 24 by j.mills

It's less about how many Muslims we have in Europe and more about how much freedom there is in Turkey. It's a secularish state and they should be encouraged to keep it that way - that's in everybody's interest. (Except Oktar's...)

Mon, 24 Nov 2008 16:45:00 UTC | #276265

Roger Stanyard's Avatar Comment 25 by Roger Stanyard

Fatcitymax - Part of Turkey IS in Europe. Turkey/The Ottoman Empire has had a presence in Europe for hundreds of years. Good grief, Ataturk modelled Turkey on Western European standards.

The one thing the Turks are not is stupid. Your comment slaps of racism.

Mon, 24 Nov 2008 16:56:00 UTC | #276267

ukvillafan's Avatar Comment 26 by ukvillafan

I have written to each of my local north-west MEPs to see what happens.

"Dear John Whittaker, Chris Davies, Robert Atkins, Brian Simpson, David Sumberg, Den Dover, Arlene McCarthy, Gary Titley and Sajjad Karim,

I write to you following a recent posting on the web site of Professor Richard Dawkins relating to freedom of expression in Turkey.

It has been known for some time that Professor Dawkins's site has been "banned" in Turkey owing to his denunciation of a pro-creationist Turk who has been promulgating a scientifically inaccurate book seeking to undermine evolution and promote "intelligent design". The man in question, Adnan Oktar, otherwise known as Harun Yahya seems to have been able to persuade the courts in Turkey to ban the website. A flavour of the issues involved can be found by going to Professor Dawkins's web site - - and searching for Atlas of Creation, the title of Oktar's book.

The recent posting contains a letter from a Dutch MEP to Olli Rehn, the Commissioner for Enlargement. It can be found here -,3369,Letter-to-the-European-Parliament-on-Turkeys-banning-of-RichardDawkinsnet,Sophie-in-t-Veld-MEP - and includes various appendices.

I hope you would agree with me that whatever the potential benefits of encouraging the continued secularisation of Turkey by permitting it to join the EU, this cannot be done if the state is incapable of protecting such basic rights as freedom of thought and expression and the freedom to criticise bad science!

In the circumstances I would invite you to join with Sophie in 't Veld MEP in requesting the most vigorous of investigations into this particular issue as a matter of urgency.

Yours sincerely"

I used this web site to find and write to the MEPs

Mon, 24 Nov 2008 17:02:00 UTC | #276271

Hellene's Avatar Comment 27 by Hellene

23. Comment #290110 by fatcitymax

I'm sure that all the secular Turks appreciate your support.

Mon, 24 Nov 2008 17:05:00 UTC | #276274

riemann's Avatar Comment 28 by riemann

As a Turk, I wholeheartedly embrace this letter and urge Ms. Veld to forward it both to the president (Abdullah Gul) and the prime minister (Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who by the way recently effectively admitted using proxy servers for accessing banned sites) of Turkey, whose e-mail addresses are, respectively:

Our former president, Ahmet Necdet Sezer, would presumably immediately respond to this request and follow the issue. Current chair holders, however, are not known for their rising up to occasions such as this, but at this point any kind of upper hand could be vital for EU negotiations and they are aware of that. They might want to get this ludicrous ban that imho doesn't serve anybody's agenda at all, out of the way if it gets too vocal.

Mon, 24 Nov 2008 17:07:00 UTC | #276276

glenister_m's Avatar Comment 29 by glenister_m

His press assistant, Seda Aral, said: "We are not against freedom of speech or expression but you cannot insult people. We found the comments hurtful. It was not a scientific discussion."

Ironic how those who are not against freedom of speech don't understand what it means. Freedom of speech means upholding the right of those you disagree with to express their opinion. Poor guy, had his feelings hurt...

I sometimes wonder though that a basic flaw in freedom of speech is that is presupposes the listeners will check your 'facts'. As holocaust deniers and their like go, they can make up anything they want, and expressed with enough conviction can fool those who can't be bothered or don't have the time to do the necessary research.

Mon, 24 Nov 2008 21:14:00 UTC | #276379

MorgitP's Avatar Comment 30 by MorgitP

I got this reply from my MEP (Bill Newton-Dunn)only a few minutes after emailing him this morning, upon reading this.

"As it happens I know both Sophie and Richard well.
Sophie is a Liberal MEP colleague of mine.
I was at school with Richard, and he emailed me yesterday evening about that same weblink - so I have put the two of them in touch with eachother !
Personally, I agree with Sophie. Turkey (if it genuinely wants to join the EU, but it is split on the idea in their parliament, so the censorship does not necessarily reflect an official view of the country) must not do things like that but must allow free expression.
All the best


And my first ever comment on an article here too. Have been following the RSS feeds for some weeks now.


Tue, 25 Nov 2008 01:13:00 UTC | #276427