Thursday, March 12, 2009

Controversy over Darwin censorship in Turkey

It appears that the Turkish government has forced a science journal (published by Turkey's research funding and science management organization, TUBITAK) to remove an article on the life and work of Charles Darwin. In addition, the editor of the journal has been sacked - possibly for commissioning the cover story as part of the Darwin's bicentennial.
In an interview with Milliyet, one of Turkey's highest-circulation daily newspapers, the editor of Bilim ve Teknik, Çiğdem Atakuman, confirmed that she had been removed from her post over the affair, but declined to comment further because she is still a TÜBİTAK employee.

Milliyet reports that the editorial changes were ordered by TÜBİTAK's vice-president, engineer Ömer Cebeci. Neither Cebeci nor TÜBİTAK's president, Nüket Yetiş, were available to be interviewed by Nature, and the agency has released no official statement on the matter.

This is terrible and there are already protests at universities in Turkey. At the same time, a word of caution: In Turkey evolution has become a highly charged political issue - linked to the debate over secularism there. There are also Municipal elections scheduled for March 29th. So we have to keep the political context in mind. In any case, there is absolutely no excuse for the censorship and for the sacking of the editor. Here is a bit from an Associated Press story about it:

Secularists in Turkey suspect the Islamic-oriented government seeks to raise the role of religion and promote the Muslim version of creationist theory. The democratically elected government, however, has said it backs the country's secular principles.

Parliament Speaker Topkan Koksal, a member of the Islamic-rooted ruling party, said he opposed the action against the magazine by the state-run Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey.

"Whether you like Darwin's theory or not, whether you believe in it or not, this is another matter," he said, calling the council's decision "wrong."

The council has not commented. Turkey's main opposition party, a bastion of secularists, demanded an explanation, and dozens of university students and teachers protested outside the Council's headquarters in Ankara.
Atakuman confirmed reports that the publication was stopped at the presses and the article was removed from the issue. Newspapers printed copies of both the original issue and the new issue without the Darwin article. The subject of the new cover was global warming.

Read the AP story, Nature, and from the Chronicle of Higher Education.


Atif Khan said...

Just wondering how many centuries it would take for human being to be able to comprehend these problems rationally.

Anonymous said...

See, how Darwinist propaganda machine is so influential, bringing this issue in the Nature. It clearly shows that the Nature journal's main focus on politic/ideology, in the guise of science. People should be opened minded. Its funny to see crying of evolutionist fundamentalists. But all those evolution extremists supported the sacking of Professors, academics questioning the Darwinian ideology. Even Darwinist fundamentalists did not spare their fellow evolutionist Professor Michael Reiss, Royal Society's education director. I was appalled and disgusted to see that those extremists were also tried link Prof Reiss with church!!!

ZF said...

Hi! My name's Zehra and I'm an undergraduate student at SMU.
Your blog is a breath of fresh air for me after coming across several ridiculous arguments about Evolution and Islam.

Having met Francisco Ayala and Ken Miller, I've decided to do my term paper for my evolution class on Evolution and Islam. Your blog is really helpful in terms of resources! Thanks!

Salman Hameed said...

Thanks Zehra. Feel free to contact me if you need more info for your paper.

Leyla Keough said...

A political cartoon on this controversy shows Prime Minister Erdogan as evolved. It is unclear to me whether this promotes evolution or just likens the Prime Minister to a monkey.

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