Turkey’s top religious body slams televangelist Adnan Oktar
The head of Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) on Jan. 31 slammed controversial TV personality and creationist Adnan Oktar, whose colorful TV shows blend religious talk with elaborately made up and surgically enhanced guests.
“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,” said Diyanet chair Ali Erbaş.
Oktar, who is known overseas as “Harun Yahya,” has been described as the “most notorious cult leader in Turkey” and has written numerous conspiracy theory-filled books on creationism and freemasonry.
“He now says he is a freemason. But he was punished previously for his remarks about freemasonry. He was also jailed for insulting Atatürk in the 1980s and 1990s. But now he speaks of himself as the greatest Kemalist. He’s a corrupted person,” 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.
The Diyanet chair’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 a father claimed his two daughters were “forced” to be on Oktar’s program.
The Istanbul Anatolian 20th Family Court ruled for Oktar, known abroad as Harun Yahya, and Koçak 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.