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Contentions

What Turkey’s Ban on Darwin Means

Far from being a model “Muslim democracy,” Turkey has grown progressively more illiberal under Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Islamist government. A bit over a year ago, the Turkish government blocked a website discussing Darwin in an Internet children’s filter. At the time, the head of Turkey’s Scientific and Technological Research Council downplayed the incident, telling Hürriyet that the ban was not against the theory of evolution. “If that was the case,” he said, “every website that used to word would have been banned. This one may have been banned for containing harmful material to children.”

Evidently, his downplaying of the incident was just nonsense for the gullible masses. Now, the Council is banning books which discuss Darwin. According to Hürriyet Daily News:

The evolutionist books, previously available through TÜBİTAK’s Popular Science Publications’ List, will no longer be provided by the council. The books have long been listed as “out of stock” on TÜBİTAK’s website, but their further publication is now slated to be stopped permanently. Titles by Richard Dawkins, Alan Moorehead, Stephen Jay Gould, Richard Levontin and James Watson are all included in the list of books that will no longer be available to Turkish readers.

When Erdoğan, in a fit of pique, declared that his goal was “to raise a religious generation,” many Western diplomats pooh-poohed the incident as just one more example of Erdoğan’s rhetorical excess. Given Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s recently unearthed anti-Semitic diatribe declaring Jews to be descended from “apes and pigs,” perhaps it’s time not only to recognize that the Islamists might not only benefit from a little time studying Darwin, but also that it’s time that diplomats understand that what Islamists say to their own population is far more important than what they tell Western diplomats and agenda-driven journalists.


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