Hundreds protest anti-evolution meet in Turkey

Hundreds protest anti-evolution meet in Turkey

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Hundreds protest anti-evolution meet in Turkey

Some 300 people, including academics and students gathered in front of Istanbul’s Marmara University yesterday to protest the creationism symposium. DHA photo

Hundreds of protesters gathered in front of Istanbul’s Marmara University’s campus yesterday to speak out against Turkey’s “first-ever academic creationism symposium” that was organized by a student club, backed by the university’s administration, and attended by about 50 people.

“It is a new step taken against science, this is called the Islamization of the universities,” said Professor Atilla Şenel, a prominent anthropologist who was among the protestors. Police prevented Şenel was from entering the two-day symposium titled “Why does science deny inter-species evolution?”, by request of Marmara University’s rector. “This is a part of the program aiming ‘to raise a religious generation.’ Those academics who give presentations in that room have nothing to do with science. They can preach in a mosque but not in a university,” he told the Hürriyet Daily News. “If the symposium’s organizers wanted to engage in a scientific debate, they would allow those with opposing ideas to be in the room.”

Only those who held invitations were allowed into the symposium, where some 50 students listened to the first day’s speakers. Nihat Buğra Ağaoğlu, one of the organizers of the event, said he came to Marmara University to study medicine as a conservative man years ago, but he became depressed when he was taught about evolution. “They did not teach us any theory but Darwinism; we were strangers in our own land,” said Ağaoğlu, who is completing a PhD in genetics.

Ağaoğlu, who also works as a project coordinator at the Health Ministry, said the organizers of the event received threats. “They threatened to kill us, they said we were bigoted and had no place in academia,” he told the Daily News. In his opening speech Ağaoğlu said, “If science was against their beliefs they would find a way to struggle with it, as well.”

Among the presenters on the first day of the symposium was Professor Turan Güven from Gazi University, who said he did not take Darwin’s theories seriously. “He [Charles Darwin] wrote that humans had four legs and they tried to stand up to see their enemies, so that they became two-legged. You have got to be kidding me,” Güven said.