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Anti-evolution censorship in Turkey

Darwin issue of a magazine is banned in Turkey:

The title summarizes all the lunacy at once. After all the censorship towards evolution (and many other things), Turkish government finally took a giant step -backwards- for all mankind and blocked the whole issue of a scientific magazine.

Darwin is now completely banned in Turkey. What a shame.

(Note that the above link belongs to RichardDawkins.net, which is another banned website in Turkey. Therefore readers from Turkey can not access it)

According to the news, the cover of the biggest and oldest magazine called Bilim ve Teknik (Science and Tech) has been changed after the release has been completed and ready for printing, due to the decision made by the new Vice President of the institution: Omer Cebeci PhD. Omer Cebeci was just assigned to that position when the government decided to be in charge of all the scientific institutions.

Banning Darwin In Turkey:

Turkey is an American ally in the bridge between Europe and the Middle East. It is in a strategic location. Turkey has been a secular country for most of a century, although largely Muslim by population. Freedom of thought and speech was largely respected in Turkey (if not for the Kurds and the Greek Cypriots,) but at least in academia. Turkey is moving dangerously towards a Muslim religious takeover of government, and most frightening is the censorship of science that embarrasses creationists.

It may be the influence of Adnan Oktar, the sex criminal, whose idea of defending Islam is to spread lies about the facts of evolution. People more familiar with Turkey, such as my reader Betul, can better analyze what is going on. In fact, Betul sent me an e-mail alerting me to the censorship of a science and technology magazine whose entire issue was to have been devoted to the 200th birthday of Sir Charles Robert.

Nature on Turkey’s Darwin Censorship:

I am glad Nature has put this issue out there. Read the article: Turkish Scientists Claim Darwin Censorship

Turkey takes another step in its downward spiral towards Islamic fundamentalism:

Turkish newspapers (here and here), the journal Nature as well as Turkish bloggers (here and here) are reporting that TÜBITAK, the government-controlled science funding organization of Turkey has removed from the March issue of its own popular-science magazine Bilim ve Teknik (Science and Technology) an article about Charles Darwin and evolution. A planned cover featuring a picture of Darwin was also replaced.

The blatant censorship was apparently ordered by TÜBİTAK’s vice-president Ömer Cebeci. It’s a sad occasion for Turkish science and the intellectual future of the country.

Darwin too controversial for Turkish science magazine:

In the US, creationism is a menace that can do real harm to science. But at least the US is not a Muslim country.

In the latest news about creation and evolution from Turkey, it appears that the leading, government-supported popular science magazine in Turkey has been prevented from running a cover story on the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth. Ömer Cebeci, a high official in the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (who incidentally is an engineering Ph.D. from Iowa State University), intervened at the last minute to change the cover story and delete the 15 pages of Darwinian material.

From the news I’ve read, I’m having trouble reading between the lines to figure out what must have happened behind the scenes. Perhaps Cebeci is a creationist. Creationism is not uncommon among engineers, quite common among Muslim engineers, and very common indeed among Turkish officialdom under the current Islamist ruling party. On the other hand, it may just be an attempt to protect the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey from being associated with “controversial” ideas such as evolution, which may draw unwanted attention, or worse, budget cuts, from the Islamists.

Turkish scientists claim Darwin censorship:

The main Turkish government agency responsible for funding science has provoked outrage by apparently censoring a magazine article on the life and work of Charles Darwin.

The article was stripped from the March issue of the widely read popular-science magazine Bilim ve Teknik (Science and Technology) just before it went to press. The magazine, which is published by Turkey’s research funding and science management organization, TÜBİTAK, also switched a planned cover picture of Darwin for an illustration relating to global warming.

Comments

  1. #1 Betul
    March 11, 2009

    Bora, thanks for joining the cause and putting a variety of links on the issue up there.

  2. #2 Deeply disturbed...
    March 11, 2009

    Thanks for posting this.

    I am Turkish academic in the USA and occasional reader of this blog. I was depressed by these news, further depressed after reading some of the comments on Nature from Turkish people. I just wanted to say there are those of us who are outraged by this.

    I know many people will say America is no better in terms of people not believing evolution. Maybe… It certainly is better in terms of freedom of speech.

    This is certainly not the Turkey Ataturk had envisioned… But worse, it’s not even the Turkey I grew up in, or even the Turkey of my parents’ generation… I had a very good education, fully based on science I grew up in an environment which contributed to me becoming the successful (female STEM) scientist I am today.

    This shift in Turkey is a real shame…

  3. #3 Pierce R. Butler
    March 11, 2009

    I copied this post and pasted it into an email for some friends – and found that it was interlaced with concealed spaces:

    D a r w i n i s s u e o f …

    This isn’t the first time I’ve encountered this odd little gimmick, and of course it only takes a minute with a word processor to undo, but it seems particularly odd coming from a vocal advocate of public-access science. It’s certainly not standard SciBlogs practice.

    Why?

  4. #4 Aydin
    March 11, 2009

    Thanks for your support.

  5. #5 Coturnix
    March 11, 2009

    Pierce: what? Explain exactly what you did and what happened? I certainly have no idea how to use invisible ink online. But perhaps our tech guys will be interested to know…

  6. #6 Pierce R. Butler
    March 11, 2009

    I did explain it: I copied the text and pasted it into another app (Eudora Pro 6.2.4 for Mac, in this case). And it came out as described: D_a_r_w_i_n_ _i_s_s_u_e_ _o_f_ … (replace underscores with spaces for actual effect)

    This just happened again, with this article: http://scienceblogs.com/cortex/2009/03/free_throws.php

    It did not happen with experiments using recent posts from erv, Pharyngula, & Cognitive Daily (links omitted to bypass comment filtering.

    I’ve run into this phenomenon at numerous other web sites, and had just assumed that it was a trick to get people to send along only the URL when relaying items of interest, to increase hit count/ad views/whatever.

  7. #7 Clay
    March 11, 2009

    Pierce,

    Was the whole article that you copy-pasted like that, or just the hyperlinks? Personally, I’d bet the problem lies with how your word processor handles hyperlinks.

  8. #8 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    March 11, 2009

    Thanks, Bora for publishing these links.

  9. #9 Pierce R. Butler
    March 12, 2009

    Clay -

    Again, I moved the article into an email app (which handles hyperlinks with no problem). The concealed spaces show up in both the links and the plain text, whether copy-&-pasted or dragged-&-dropped, whether moved directly to email or to a separate WP app. Also, please note this occurs only with a minority of web items.

    Alas, with every one of those transfers, the links & styling disappear (apparently an attribute of Firefox).

    (Extra parenthesis added here to provide closure for 3rd ‘graf in previous comment: ))

  10. #10 Jeka
    March 27, 2009

    Just came back from a short trip to Turkey and would like to add small comment to this issue. It is interesting to see the echo of this philosophical trend in the most popular Turkish daily newspaper published in English this week (Today’s Zaman, March 23, 2009). Almost half of the last page is used for advertisement of a book on Evolution theory – “Evolution: Science or Ideology“ by Irfan Yilmaz, professor of biology (!). Book’s description sais: “EVOLUTION: SCIENCE OR IDEOLOGY aims to show how the theory of evolution has been abused to deny religious thought, and that the scientific evidence set forth to prove it actually serves the opposite.” Professor I. Yilmaz from Dokuz Eylul University (Izmir, Turkey) shows scientific evidence against the theory and provides Islamic understanding of creation with deviations to Darwin, Big Bang, Polypeptide chain, Lamark and etc. Published in the year of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Robert Darwi and been already translated to English and Russian…

    The same comment was left at the Nature web-page:
    http://www.nature.com/news/2009/090325/full/458397a.html

  11. #11 Ozan
    August 5, 2009

    I am a freshman in biology in Turkey, I am now 25 years old (actually after 3 years of medical faculty I decided to leave, that’s why I’m too old for a freshman).
    I lived through the transformation of Turkish educational system. When I was at secondary school (1998), the government decided to make the primary education 8 years. I was too young to understand what was happening. It was that moment when creationism entered to Turkish educational system. In biology books they changed the “evolution” subject’s name with “The appearance of life”. And now it is “Different ideas about the appearance of life” But actually it seems like, the first steps of this transformation implemented between the years 1980-1985.
    Now, it’s hard to accept but Turkey is becoming the Asian, European and African center of creationism. Harun Yahya’s Creation Atlas is still being distributed all over the country as well as Europe, Asia and Africa. Turkey is losing her secular point of view and I have to accept that this country is no more the country we grew.
    Our professors, my friends and I want to change this but it is too much politics for us.
    Sometimes I really lose my hope…

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