The Great Firewall of Turkey

If you’ve booked a holiday in Turkey and had any thoughts of nipping out to a local cyber-cafe to catch up with your favourite blogs while you’re out there, then forget it. If the blog you’re after is hosted at wordpress.com then all you’ll see is this:

“Access to this site has been suspended in accordance with decision no: 2007/195 of T.C. Fatih 2.Civil Court of First Instance.”

‘This site’, in this case is wordpress.com in its entirety, over one million blogs according to their own figures and all of the currently inaccessible to anyone in Turkey, native or visitor, courtesy of arch-creationist Adnan Oktar.

Oktar, who appears to operate as a one-man Islamic Discovery Institute under the pen-name Harun Yaha, has apparent taken umbrage at criticism of his antics posted on around a dozen blogs hosted by wordpress, which he claims contain defamatory comments, and at the failure of WordPress to shut down these blogs in response to his allegations, on the basis of which he appears to obtained a court order blocking access to the whole wordpress.com domain. In an email to WordPress ‘explaining’ his actions, which appears to be from his lawyer, he even goes so far as to demand that:

WE DEMAND YOU TO REMOVE AND PROHIBIT ANY BLOGS IN YOUR SITE THAT CONTAIN MY CLIENT’S NAME ADNAN OKTAR OR HIS PEN NAME HARUN YAHYA OR VARIOUS COMBINATION OF THESE 4 NAMES.

Not only is this completely unworkable but it smacks not so much of tackling [allegedly] defamatory remarks as trying to suppress all criticism of his activities, however well-founded that criticism might be.

What this appears to show, and which was previously not known to be the case, is that the Turkish authorities may be in possession of much the same kind of centralised capacity to block access to and/or censor internet access to it citizens as is already known to exist and operate in China and in any number of Islamic countries, including Saudi Arabia.

This, as should be obvious, is hardly in keeping with Turkey’s aspirations of full EU membership not to mention a flagrant violation of the provisions for freedom of expression contained within article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights:

Article 10 – Freedom of expression

1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.

2. The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.

Ali Eterraz, over at Comment Is Free, has provided a first-class overview of Oktar and his publishing career, which encompasses:

…topics including refutations of atheism and Darwinism, romanticism as a weapon of Satan, anti-evolution pseudo-science, affirmation of miracles, and attacks on Freemasonry, Zionists, Buddhists, and terrorism (Darwin’s fault). In 1996, Harun Yahya published a book called Holocaust Lies (also called Holocaust Deception), which claimed that “what is presented as Holocaust is the death of some Jews due to the typhus plague during the war and the famine towards the end of the war caused by the defeat of the German.” Oddly, a few years later, he pinned anti-semitism on “neo-paganism” and “Darwinism” while putting himself forward as a denouncer of anti-semitism. Additionally, Yahya denies writing Holocaust Lies, but that is hard to believe.

Quite.

  • There was an interesting article about Oktar some months ago in The Independent (presumably not yet banned by the Turkish authorities) describing his anti-Darwin antics. These include the publication and mass-mailing of a glossy tome called The Atlas of Creation and his attempts to impose creationism on Turkish school and university curricula, not to speak of a project to build massive creationist museums at home and abroad. It’s not at all clear where the money to do this is coming from…

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  • Excellent article.