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article imageTurkey bans website of evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins

By Bart B. Van Bockstaele     Sep 20, 2008 in World
Internet users in Turkey are no longer allowed to visit the website of the well-known Oxford University biologist Richard Dawkins, because the site insults religion.
The Guardian reports that a Turkish court has banned Internet users from visiting the website of Richard Dawkins as a result of a complaint that the contents of the site are blasphemous.
Adnan Oktar, a well-known hardcore creationist and a household name in Turkey, who writes under the name of Harun Yahya had complained that Richard Dawkins had insulted him on blogs and forums. Richard Dawkins, a well-respected evolutionary biologist and a professor at Oxford University, is well-known for the fierceness with which he defends science in general, and Charles Darwin's theory of evolution in particular. He is also well-known for his fight against religion and superstition, including creationism or intelligent design.
The second criminal court of peace of Istanbul has banned the site because it violates Oktar's personality, according to Oktar's office.
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. There was a line and the limit has been passed.
"We have used all the legal means to stop this site. We asked them to remove the comments but they did not."
Oktar has contested Darwin's theory of evolution in hundreds of books, pamphlets and DVDs. In 2006, the Atlas of Creation, an 800-page book in which Oktar rejects the theory of evolution was sent to 10,000 people, including Richard Dawkins.
Professor Dawkins has described the book as preposterous, and he has written on his website that he is "at a loss to reconcile the expensive and glossy production values of this book with the 'breathtaking inanity' of the content."
It is not the first time that Oktar manages to block access to a website. In August 2007, Oktar had access to wordpress.com blocked. He argued that the blogs on wordpress.com contained libellous material that WordPress refused to remove. Last April, he succeeded in blocking Google Groups.
He did not, however, succeed in banning Richard Dawkins' book the God Delusion. The Turkish court did reject his claim that the book insults religion.
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I had some problems choosing the right category for this article. On the one hand, it is purely a religious matter, but on the other hand it is potentially harmful to the scientific education of Turkish youth. Richard Dawkins is only one website. As such, the direct harm is minimal. However, this may also give a lot of people the impression that creationism is a valid scientific theory, which of course, it is not. But there is more. Turkey is hoping to join the European Union. The Union has accepted the application, a decision that was far from uncontroversial. The European Union is currently struggling to increase the number of scientists. Banning freedom of speech and banning access to scientific sites, does not seem the best way to achieve this.
What do you think?
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