Turkish televangelist Adnan Oktar’s ‘kitten-in-chief’ among detained
Çetin Aydın / Eyüp Serbest / Fırat Alkaç - ISTANBUL
Adnan Oktar and Didem Ürer
A woman dubbed by televangelist Adnan Oktar as his “kitten-in-chief” is among dozens of followers of his “cult” who have been detained, police sources told Hürriyet.
Turkish police launched an operation on July 11 to detain Oktar in his villa in Istanbul and 234 of his followers, including 106 women, in four provinces.
Oktar hosts talk show programs on his television channel, A9, on which he has discussed Islamic values, sometimes danced with young women he calls “kittens” and sang with young men, whom he calls his “lions.”
After criminal complaints filed by multiple plaintiffs whose ages range from 11 to 40, prosecutors charged Oktar and his followers with 31 crimes, including espionage, sexual abuse of minors and blackmailing.
Police sources said 171 followers of Oktar were detained on July 11 and 63 remain at large as of July 12.
“Kitten-in-chief” Didem Ürer was detained as she attempted to run away with Oktar in Istanbul's Sarıyer district, according to sources, who confirmed that Oktar’s “right-hand man” Tarkan Yavaş managed to escape the police raid.
“With the meaning of my life, my only love and my most beloved ones, we met at a dinner table that reminded me of paradise,” Ürer had said in a recent tweet.
“Oktar always tried to alienate the girls from their families, sowing seeds of hostility with their parents. He wanted them in a position that they would never think that they could return to their families,” one complainant, identified only as H.U., told a prosecutor.
“No one in the group was able to meet with anyone outside alone. There were always at least two more witnesses from the group. The girls who were suspected to plot an escape were transported in Oktar’s armored cars while another car full of ‘armed brothers’ would follow it,” he added.
After the July 11 raid, Turkish authorities seized Oktar’s assets, and all suspects were sent to hospital for a medical check including for sexually transmitted diseases.
Ceylan Özgül, a former disciple of Oktar, had told state-run Anadolu Agency on July 11 that “This organization is full of filth on the inside. Children aged seven to 17 are being sexually abused. Some girls have repeatedly been raped.”
People gathered outside Haseki hospital and were heard booing and mocking Oktar as he was escorted in by the police for medical checks.
“Hey, why don’t you call your kittens to help?” a passerby sarcastically asked Oktar.
Oktar grinned bitterly and then turned to journalists to blame the “British deep state” over the raid, before police officers silenced him by putting their hands on his mouth.
In February, Turkey’s television watchdog suspended a television program hosted by Oktar that blended theological discussion and dancing, saying it violated gender equality and women’s rights.
In 2006, Oktar wrote the Atlas of Creation under his pen-name Harun Yahya, arguing that Darwin’s theory of evolution is at the root of global terrorism. He has written more than 300 books, translated into 73 languages, his channel says on its website.