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← Letter to the European Parliament on Turkey's banning of

elfinabout's Avatar Jump to comment 48 by elfinabout


Dear Caroline Lucas, Sharon Bowles, Ashley Mote, Peter Skinner, Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, Daniel Hannan and Nigel Farage,

I write to express my deep concern regarding the recent decision by an Istanbul court to ban access to the Richard Dawkins website, from anywhere in Turkey by ordering Turk Telecom to disallow browsing to the domain. You may read the original story at the Guardian website here:

This latest assault on freedom of expression by the Turkish judiciary came after the Islamic creationist Adnan Oktar (who writes under the pseudonym Harun Yahya), author of "Atlas of Creation" complained to the court that he had been defamed by Professor Dawkins.

As the Charles Symonyi Chair for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University, Professor Dawkins is uniquely qualified to speak publicly on matters scientific. The comment that Oktar has apparently taken offence to was within Prof. Dawkins' review of "The Atlas of Creation" - Prof. Dawkins said 'I am at a loss to reconcile the expensive and glossy production values of this book with the breathtaking inanity of the content'. You may view a video of Prof. Dawkins discussing this situation here:

The fact that the book attempts, dishonestly, to discredit the theory of evolution in favour of a creationist worldview on virtually every page, contrary to all demonstrable evidence, is immaterial. The fact that the author has no training whatsoever in biology or palaeontology, is immaterial. His recent conviction and sentencing for creating an illegal organisation for personal gain, although telling of character, is also immaterial - Oktar should have the right to write and publish whatever he likes. However, neither he nor anyone else should be able to leverage the power of the Turkish judiciary to prevent an entire country from reading an opposing viewpoint, however much he feels his feelings have been hurt.

As you know, Turkey has applied to join the EU. I believe the above example may be indicative of the Turkish establishments' continuing deference to religious sensibilities over individual rights of expression. A brief web search yields many more examples of state censorship of websites (as The Guardian notes, including two other bans prompted by Oktar) that criticise Islam. This from a country that is constitutionally secular.

I believe this is a subject worth serious investigation, in relation to Turkeys' application to join the EU. I would like to know:

If this example does indeed appear indicative of a wider culture of censorship for religious reasons in Turkey;
If this is being discussed with the Turkish authorities and what their response is, if so;
What action you intend to take, especially how this is being expressed in your reports on the progress of candidate states.

My thanks in advance for your comprehensive reply.

Yours sincerely,

Sun, 30 Nov 2008 09:55:00 UTC | #279923