The problem is that it oversimplifies the complex reaction to evolution in the larger Muslim world. The picture is by no means rosy. But, to isolate the reaction to Yahya is like creating a profile of a typical Muslim by spending all of your time in Istanbul. Sure, you will get a profile - but it will be a mistake to call it the profile. [Nothing wrong with Istanbul - I love it! I'm making a different point here :) ]
Here are two examples where Yahya is covered. While they both mention his legal troubles, neither brought up the egregious errors in his Atlas of Creation. The specific are not important. What is important to highlight is the nature of these mistakes - mistakes that even a high school kid will be ashamed to make. In any here is a report from Australia:
And here is an article by Steve Paulson in Slate. In fact, Steve is aware of some of the pitfalls associated with covering Yahya:
Yes, and articles like this may be helping them fill this vacuum (ok - this may be a bit too harsh - but this is indeed how Yahya spins this coverage). If we do cover Yahya, it is important that we focus on how really bad his science is (Dawkins did this wonderfully here) - and that he only represents a particular context in the larger Muslim world [to be fair, Paulson did bring up Turkish politics when addressing Yahya's creationism]. What is important is to highlight that there are varieties of responses to evolution in the Muslim world - some accept evolution, many reject it. One may have to travel a bit farther than Istanbul to see the full spectrum of Muslim reactions to evolution.
By now my head was spinning—just where could I take this interview?—but I kept wondering why Oktar would bother doing interviews with Western journalists like me. Just how would he benefit from this coverage? I got the answer once I asked him to assess his own influence. With the publication of Atlas of Creation, Oktar claimed that "Darwinism had come to an impasse for the first time in history." He then pulled out a loose-leaf notebook filled with clippings from major European newspapers and magazines and proceeded to quote from them: Liberation had referred to "the book that created a great panic", Stern had likened his book to thunder, and La Stampa had run the headline "Farewell Darwin." The lesson was clear, according to Oktar; most Europeans had lost their belief in Darwinism.
So this was it: Any publicity, no matter how bad, would confirm Harun Yahya's status as a global player in the evolution wars. Taner Edis, a Turkish-American physicist who tracks Islamic creationism, told me later: "Anything you write about Harun Yahya will eventually be quoted in Harun Yahya's own literature and his own Web site. Whether it's distorted or not, inevitably, it will be presented as 'hey, the Darwinists are on the run.' "No doubt the same will happen with this article. So would we be better off simply ignoring Harun Yahya? Probably not. Yahya has already grabbed the spotlight, not just in Turkey but in Muslim communities around the world. His organization is adept at filling the vacuum where support for evolution is weak, and many scientists in Islamic countries are now wary of defending evolution.
Also see earlier posts:
Yahya still desperately seeking attention
The evolution of Harun Yahya's "Atlas of Creation"
Dawkins shreds Yahya's Atlas of Creation
Internet and the spread of Islamic Creationism
Harun Yahya and the arts