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Three Easy Steps to Block Sites in Turkey

In a clear instance of vexatious litigation, a Turkish court has blocked the Web site of prominent evolutionist Richard Dawkins following complaints from Islamic creationist and author Adnan Oktar. Oktar, who writes under the nom de plume Harun Yahya, filed the complaint last week; when Turkish Internet users now attempt to access Dawkins’ site, they are presented with a message that reads: ‘access to this site has been suspended in accordance with a court decision'.

This is not the first time Oktar has been involved in such litigation. In April 2007, Oktar successfully filed a defamation complaint against Turkish online news site Eksi sozluk. Oktar filed the complaint because of comments that users of Eksi sozluk had posted about him; a similar site, Superpoligon, was also blocked. Access to Eksi sozluk was restored shortly after the complaints were filed, and the offending remarks removed by the site's administrator.

Less than four months later, Oktar appealed to WordPress.com to remove a number of blogs which he deemed slanderous. Following an unfavorable reaction from WordPress, Oktar again filed a complaint with the Turkish judicial system, which in turn blocked WordPress within Turkey. Oktar's complaint was based on a number of blogs created by rival Edip Yuksel, a prominent dissident. To date, WordPress remains blocked, despite numerous campaigns to unblock the site. Turkish bloggers now use Wordprexy, a mirror site set up by activist group Great Firewall of Turkey, to read and post to WordPress blogs. Less than six months later, Oktar filed a complaint against Google Groups, which led to that site being blocked within Turkey as well (Google.com remained accessible; only the subdomain groups.google.com was filtered). It is once again available.

Oktar's latest rancor is directed at Richard Dawkins, a British ethologist and evolutionary biologist. Following the release of Oktar's creationist book, Atlas of Creation, Dawkins wrote on his Web site:

“I am at a loss to reconcile the expensive and glossy production values of this book with the breathtaking inanity of the content.”

Oktar, who was involved in the attempt to ban Dawkins’ book The God Delusion in Turkey, retaliated by filing a complaint in regards to Dawkins’ Web site. A Turkish judicial court sided with Oktar, and ordered Turk Telecom to ban the site.

In each instance, the foreign press was quick to assume that the blockings were related to Turkey's rising Islamist party, the AKP. It is perhaps more alarming that politics had little to do with it. It is surprising that Oktar, considered a charlatan by the Turkish public, and having so recently run afoul of the law, carries so much weight in the Turkish judicial system.

In fact, Oktar carries neither more nor less weight than anyone else. According to a recent Reuters article, a law passed in May now allows the Telecommunications Directorate to close down websites based on complaints by individual users, thus enabling anyone with a complaint to get a site blocked. The problem therefore lies in the ease with which anyone can file such a complaint.

On Oktar's Web site, HarunYahya.com, there is a quote from the Qur'an: “Truth has come and falsehood has vanished. Falsehood is always bound to vanish.” If Dawkins’ work is the falsehood Oktar is referencing, then indeed he has succeeded in making it “vanish”…if only from the Turkish Internet.

Posted on ONI Blog

6 comments

  • alex kerminsky

    Years ago,i have withessed prof.dawkins insulting mocking on creationists.He was very rude and vane.Same behaviour is very usual in all atheist and evolutionist websites.This immoral,corrupted abusive behaviour has marketed as a freedom in internet.It seems that this behaviour is illegal in some countries(so it has to be)And one person(Harun Yahya) who is avare of this legal proceedure,used his legal rights and shut down these abusive websites.I really congradulate him to stand up strong againts those immoral people.He is saying ” i do not want to see dirty mouth in my house,go play in other playgroud”

  • Good article, thanks

  • Jack Elberfeld

    Sorry Alex, but mr. Oktar was sentenced to jail for “using threats for personal benefit and creating an organization with the intent to commit a crime.”

    And then HE should be the one “to stand up strong againts immoral people?”

  • CommieCownoy

    I think it’s time for another military coup in Turkey. I think Washington should sublet a space in Gitmo for Mr. Oktar. Unlike most of the innocent people being imprisoned without trial, he would probably deserve it.

  • [...] Adnan Oktar ha causado mucho daño a los internautas turcos, dicen algunos. Pero las decisiones judiciales han excedido el límite de lo razonable y de lo que debería ser entendido como el respeto a las libertades. El hecho de que Oktar haya saltado de un servidor a otro, no puede legitimar la desproporcionada respuesta de los tribunales turcos de ir cerrándolos a medida que pasaba: WordPress.com, Google Groups y ahora Blogger. [...]

  • [...] Adnan Oktar has been very harmful to the access of Turkish Netizens to the Internet. He has succeeded in getting a variety of major websites banned by court decisions. Next to these two blogging services, Adnan Oktar also filed a complaint against Google Groups, which led to the ban of the website. [...]

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