Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Strange bedfellows

The DI's official organ is promoting a Muslim ID Web site. I won't link to the site for reasons I'll explain.

The group linked is called Harun Yahya, and those who were reading TfK a year ago will remember that Mustafa Akyol was involved with them.

Tony Ortega, then at the Kansas City Pitch Weekly, wrote of Harun Yahya:

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.

But seven years after BAV's offensive began, says Istanbul University forensics professor Umit Sayin (one of the slandered faculty members), the battle is over.

"There is no fight against the creationists now. They have won the war," Sayin tells the Pitch from his home in Istanbul. "In 1998, I was able to motivate six members of the Turkish Academy of Sciences to speak out against the creationist movement. Today, it's impossible to motivate anyone. They're afraid they'll be attacked by the radical Islamists and the BAV."

Sayin is well aware of Mustafa Akyol, whom he identifies as one of BAV's many volunteers. (Akyol himself has described his role for the group as that of a spokesman.) The organization's source of funding and internal structure are well-guarded secrets, Sayin says. The Turkish government, he adds, refuses to take an interest, tacitly encouraging the ongoing effort against scientists.

"It's hopeless here," Sayin says. "I've been fighting with these guys for six years, and it's come to nothing." As a result of the BAV campaign and other efforts to denounce evolution, he adds, most members of Turkey's parliament today not only discount evolution but consider it a hoax. "Now creationism is in [high school] biology books," Sayin says. "Evolution is presented [by BAV] as a conspiracy of the Jewish and American imperialists to promote new world order and fascist motives ... and the majority of the people believe it."

The secret to BAV's success is the huge popularity of the Harun Yahya books, says a professor closer to home, Truman State University physicist Taner Edis, who was born in Turkey.
Akyol's testimony at the Kansas hearings amounted to the claim that Islamic and Christian fundamentalists can all get together in their dislike for science and "matierialism." Somehow the sort of scientific materialism that people talk about became the materialism of MTV, which was a fun little diversion.

Like the DI, Harun Yahya presents a slick public face on an anti-science agenda of religious fanaticism. Indeed, they have been rather more successful than the DI or the ID Network, on whose Board Akyol sits.