Televangelist Adnan Oktar enters war of words with Turkey’s top religious authority

Televangelist Adnan Oktar enters war of words with Turkey’s top religious authority

Televangelist Adnan Oktar enters war of words with Turkey’s top religious authority

Controversial TV personality Adnan Oktar, who is known abroad as Harun Yahya, has entered into a war of words with the head of Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) following the latter’s criticism.

“[Diyanet employees] earn their salaries from income and taxes coming from casinos and [alcoholic] beverage factories. Have your ever made a statement about these issues? Have you ever raised your voice about this? You have kept silent,” said Oktar.

On his program Oktar surrounds himself with surgically enhanced women, who he refers to as his “kittens,” while discussing religious and social issues. He has been described as the “most notorious cult leader in Turkey” and has written numerous conspiracy theory-filled books on creationism and freemasonry.

The Diyanet has not released an official statement about Oktar’s remarks.  

The dispute between the directorate and Oktar erupted after Diyanet head Ali Erbaş suggested that Oktar had “likely lost his mental balance.” 

“There are certain religious references [on Oktar’s TV show] and he makes belly dancers dance. Is such a thing possible? He has most likely lost his mental balance,” Erbaş said.

“It is not right to watch a TV channel like [Oktar’s A9 station]. The authority to ban a TV station does not belong to the Diyanet but the authorized [institution] should ban it,” he added.

Erbaş’s remarks came after an Istanbul court issued a temporary restraining order for Oktar.

On Jan. 19, a court had issued a temporary restraining order against Oktar and Gülperi Koçak, the mother of two young women, after Elvan Koçak claimed his two daughters were “forced” to be on Oktar’s program. 

The Istanbul Anatolian 20th Family Court ruled for Oktar and the women’s mother to be kept away from the 19-year-old and 17-year-old women for six months.

The court ruling came after the father, who lives in Austria, had not heard from his two daughters for a long time. The young women were then spotted on Oktar’s show.

The women’s father, Elvan Koçak, filed an application to the Istanbul Chief Prosecutor’s Office, after which the prosecutor’s office launched an investigation into Oktar and Gülperi on charges of “deprivation of liberty.” The investigation file was then sent to the Istanbul 20th Family Court, as a result of which a restraining order was issued for the two young women in Oktar’s entourage for a period of six months. 

The court also banned Oktar and Koçak from making any remarks that involve “threats, insults, contempt or humiliation” against the father, as well as the two young women in question. It also granted custody of the 17-year-old to the father, giving the mother permission to contact their daughters only on Sundays.