Why We’re Blocked in Turkey: Adnan Oktar

There’s been quite a discussion going on in my personal blog about the fact that all of WordPress.com has been blocked by Turkey.

Lots of people, including us, are confused and indignant about this wholesale censorship. Last night we received a letter from the person claiming to be responsible for the block, which in the interest of the community I’m going to publish in its entirety here:

Dear Sir,

We have applied to you to remove the unlawful statements regarding my client Mr. Adnan Oktar (who is the author of the books written under the pen name Harun Yahya) in your blogs. The number of our attempts to inform and warn you regarding these defamation blogs must have been at least twenty, many times through your support page, a couple of times to your legal department and we even sent a regular mail to Mr. Matt Mullenweg. Most of our attempts were unanswered.

These defamation blogs contained slanders to some of my client’s friends as well. They also applied WordPress.com support with their official ID cards and a representative directed them to write to the legal department. So they did but again no response from legal.

So we have become obliged to apply to Turkish judicial courts to stop this defamation executed through your services. By the decision of Fatih 2nd Civil Court of First Instance, number 2007/195, access to WordPress.com has been blocked in Turkey.

The organization, which is led by Edip Yuksel, responsible for these defamation blogs in question are currently up for crimes such as “building an organization to commit crime” in Turkey. The sites of Edip Yuksel, http://www.yahyaharun.com, http://www.19.org, http://www.calinmisgenclik.com and also the blog under your site with the user name http://adnanoktar.wordpress.com have been blocked by Turkish judicial courts in Turkey before(by Gaziosmanpasa Civil Court of First Instance, dated 06.04.2007 and decision number 2007/130 D. Is) . We have also sent you the official documents on this judicial decision in one of our applications to you.

Since Edip Yuksel and his crime organization could easily start new blogs in your site, they had even launched a campaign in opening defamation blogs regarding my client and had explicitly expressed this organized endeavor in his defamation blogs:

“In order to make people hear our voice, let everyone start new blogs from websites such as http://blogcu.com or http://wordpress.com and let them copy the posts on those blogs and paste them to their own. You can start several at once, if possible. Please remember that the name you will give to the blogs, should be related to Adnan Oktar or Harun Yahya in order to find them quickly through Google search. If the names are already taken, you can solve this problem by using characters such as “_” (Adnan_Oktar) or numbers such as AdnanOktar100, Adnan_Oktar_50.”

The aim of all of these blogs that he and his organization starts, was to insult my client. All of them were completely full of slanderous statements. There are still some sites left open -not accessible from Turkey, but still accessible abroad – :

http://adnanoktar.wordpress.com

http://adnanoktarveislam.wordpress.com/

http://fitikado.wordpress.com

http://oktarbabuna.wordpress.com

http://adnancilar.wordpress.com/

http://adnanoktarveislam.wordpress.com/

http://whoisharunyahya.wordpress.com/

http://adnanoktargercekleri.wordpress.com/

http://quiestharunyahya.wordpress.com/

http://harunyahyaarabic.wordpress.com/

http://safsataciharunyahya.wordpress.com/

http://savsatalaracevap.wordpress.com/

The below are taken but still empty:

http://adnanzedeler.wordpress.com/

http://kodadiabi.wordpress.com/

As we have requested before:

WE DEMAND YOU TO REMOVE AND PROHIBIT ANY BLOGS IN YOUR SITE THAT CONTAIN MY CLIENT’S NAME ADNAN OKTAR OR HIS PEN NAME HARUN YAHYA OR VARIOUS COMBINATION OF THESE 4 NAMES.

Yours sincerely,

Attorneys of Mr. Adnan Oktar (Harun Yahya)
Atty. Kerim Kalkan / Atty. Ceyhun Gökdoğan (Istanbul Barr register number:
27405)

Address: Darulaceze caddesi, Bilal Is Merkezi, A Blok, D:5. Okmeydani Sisli
Istanbul
Telephone: 90 212 220 31 20
Fax: 90 212 220 74 21
E-mail: rotahukuk@rotahukuk.com
ceyhungokdogan@istanbulbarosu.org.tr

So there you have it.

I’m curious, particularly amoung our Turkish community, what do you think we should do about this? How should we respond?

Update: I have some new info from the offending lawyers on my blog.


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392 Comments

Comments are closed.

  1. Pingback: Deja vu « BD says
  2. Mornatur Arquenóro

    The answer, as i see it, is simple: ¿does the listed wordpress.com blogs violate the wordpress.com rules? If so, the blogs should be removed – or the rules applied, anyway. If they don´t do such thing, and aren´t also violating any international laws, or laws in wordpress.com country of origin, things should stay as they are.

    On the other hand, the whole situation is becoming a very dangerous basis to anyone with a minimal amount of power in the web. The whole sense of the “blog” concept is the free speech, isn´t it?

    Like

  3. Collin

    Not being able to read Turkish, I had no idea what the problem is, therefore cannot offer a solution. I truly believe that it is excessive to ban the whole of wordpress.com though.

    For those that do not know what this is about go to wikipedia and in the search type “adnan oktar”

    Like

  4. lovesthewind

    Dear Sir,

    Mr. Adnan Oktar expresses his views and opinions on his website. Similarly, our members express their views and opinions on their sites.

    Sincerely,
    WordPress.com

    Like

  5. undarsh

    You can’t be serious? Did they block all websites from turkey? Do you know of any of the mails he is saying he has tried to come in contact with wordpress. Did you have a representative in the court when this decision was made?

    “The aim of all of these blogs that he and his organization starts, was to insult my client.
    All of them were completely full of slanderous statements.”

    If this is the case that it’s just for one person i don’t see how they could ban wordpress in Turkey. Can someone ban a webpage if it insults someone? I would almost all webpages insults someone, but in different ways. But that’s just me.

    “In order to make people hear our voice, let everyone start new blogs from websites such as http://blogcu.com or http://wordpress.com and let them copy the posts on those blogs and paste them to their own. You can start several at once, if possible. Please remember that the name you will give to the blogs, should be related to Adnan Oktar or Harun Yahya in order to find them quickly through Google search. If the names are already taken, you can solve this problem by using characters such as “_” (Adnan_Oktar) or numbers such as AdnanOktar100, Adnan_Oktar_50.”

    If that is the case that there are many different blogs that insult that name i would say you could try to come to an agreement by banning all webpages containing any of those combinations of Adnan Oktar Harun Yahya, if that is possible.

    The Turkish community must be mad because of this. Hope you resolve the problem. I would say it’s almost a human right to have the right to be heard(to blog).

    Good luck!
    Anders:D

    Like

  6. BD

    I’m not from Turkey. But I’d strongly advise against removing the blogs, simply because it would set a precedence for more such notices, leading to a very very bad situation.

    Not very long ago, the entire blogspot domain was blocked in India because of a few blogs hosted in that domain. Bloggers collaborated with the mainstream media to mobilize public opinion. The Government later blamed the ISP’s for the ‘mishap’ and soon the ban was lifted.

    Like

  7. wildeny

    I don’t belong to Turkish community so can’t suggest anything. But some people may be interested in a workaround for the moment until when the thing is resolved.

    Like

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  10. Ken Perrott

    Seems to me that the best way if fighting this is to publicise the issue – try to shame them into backing down.
    Isn’t this Harun Yahya the guy sending an expensive creationist book to schools, scientists, etc. in Europe and the USA? It’s inevitable he will be criticised for this, and for the arguments in his book and similar publication.
    Has the censorship got something to do with this issue?

    Like

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  13. kayinmaine

    Now that’s weird. I wonder what a Google search of Harun Yahya turns up? I’m going to go find out right now.

    Like

  14. kayinmaine

    He’s partly a dangerous Turkish pedophile it appears:

    http://www.mukto-mona.com/debunk/harun_yahya/index.htm

    Yuck.

    Like

  15. sphyrnatude

    well, turkey is simply excercising their right as a soverign nation to keep “undesirables” out. As long as WordPress allows free speech, there will be countries that will prevent us from posting there.

    the intreresting question is: How long will it be before the USA starts requiring you to screen your posts for ideas that the government finds unapealing?

    Like

  16. Potter System

    Have you ever received an official message from a Turkish court with the resolution? You may claim the blockage is “illegal”, cause WP.com hasn’t been notified about the judicial process / charges.

    Terms of Service may also be used: the 15th point for the international problem, and 2nd point for what WordPress.com may check right now.

    Like

  17. Cppd Officer

    my friend dunya is from turkey and her friend had to delete her blog for her and dunyas blog was amazing :cry:

    Like

  18. Pingback: Censura turca « Piove con il sole
  19. حسن إبراهيم

    I think you should do absolutely nothing.
    Turkish people should fight for their own rights.. they should be able to know how to do it because it’s their country anyway.
    Those people can start blogs anywhere, so would Turkey end up blocking all blogging services?

    We aren’t about to censor what you publish but we will decide what not to feature on the front page.

    http://wordpress.com/blog/2007/08/06/categories-and-news-departments/

    Deleting the blogs would really threat the future of WordPress.com because China may be next and it would never end.
    I say you let Turkish speak first, and if they have suggestions like WordPress.com sending a letter to the Turkish government or something, you may help them someway. But I think [first] steps should be Turkish.

    Like

  20. Jonathan Tardif

    Unless the blogs are violating the rules, terms of service, or violating any laws I don’t see why the blogs should be removed.

    I admit, I don’t understand the situation other than the lawyers for some writer seems to think his/her client is being slandered in some way. Basically, they don’t like what they’re reading, so they don’t think it should be on the internet.

    I guess Turkey doesn’t have the same sense of freedom of speech that we have…

    Like

  21. natanzuelo

    Esto esta mal. No a la censura!!!

    Like

  22. wwstewart

    I would respond as follows:

    To Whom It May Concern,

    *blow raspberry here*

    Sincerely,
    wordpress.com

    =====================

    But that’s just me ;)

    Like

  23. Pingback: WordPress.com Blocked in Turkey « The Weifang Radish
  24. jlg1

    Here’s what I could dig up:

    Apparently Adnan Oktar (Harun Yahya is his pen name) is a Islamic creationist whose group is mounting a big anti-evolution campaign. It’s his attorneys looking to close any sites they claim are “defaming” Adnan Oktar and his creationist activism. The group did in fact send their creationist books to schools in Europe and the US

    Edip Yüksel seems to be an Islamic reformist who wrote an article criticizing Oktar and his movement. The blogs named (one in English) seem to be trying to expose Oktar’s group for a fundamentalist movement with dark secrets. They might be accused of spam blogging, at the least.

    The wholesale blocking of wordpress.com may be a legal matter in connection to the case of Oktar.

    But I wouldn’t suggest deleting the blogs or reaching a deal with Oktar’s attorneys, as it would set a nasty precedent. Especially since Oktar’s group isn’t innocent themselves, and may be trying to practice censorship themselves.

    Though please correct me if anyone from Turkey or who knows better about the issue can shed more light on this…

    Like

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  26. savedbymcr

    My opinion is that if you give in to this it will only be the beginning. Everyone will start filing lawsuits and having blogs removed and sites shut down. Blogs are/were intended to be a place to speak your mind… not speak about what a government deems appropriate.

    Like

  27. immotality

    Here is the wikipedia link on Adnan Oktar (other name Harun Yahya), whose lawyers sent the above letter to Matt and had court order from Turkish court to block wordpress:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harun_Yahya

    He is an anti-semitic, creationist, cult leader whose organisation has been convicted because of defaming several Turkish professors.

    This guy and 18 members of his organisation is currently being prosecuted in Turkey for starting an illegal organisation to intimidate the media through constant defamation, threaten people who are against their ideology etc. This is what they do.

    Here are some links to Turkish newspapers on this news that for those interested in translating: http://www.haberler.com/adnan-oktar-a-yurt-disi-yasagi-haberi/ and

    http://www.haber7.com/haber.php?haber_id=242406

    Like

  28. valerie

    In my opinion, if the sites do not violate wordpress.com TOS, violate copyright law, or have not been ordered to be taken down by a US court… leave them. As others have said, remoming them sets a bad precedence. Don’t back down.

    Like

  29. terminallycute

    This is a religious thing, I think…? *sighgroan* What a pain….

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harun_Yahya

    ~TC

    Like

  30. Pingback: 20070819-Sinking Censorship « Flynn’s Blogs
  31. cronies

    As they’ve requested before, remove n’ prohibit any blogs in this site that contain his client’s name Adnan Oktar, his pen name Hanrun Yahya or various combination of these 4 names…

    Like

  32. Matt

    Ethically, it seems the decision is a simple one. WordPress is all about free speech, as long as certain standards are maintain (no pornography, etc), and so those standards should be applied here. To remove those blogs would be a shame, though I see no reason they should have multiple wordpress blogs which have exactly the same content.

    The lawyers in Turkey can bluster all they like but WordPress, as far as I can figure, is under no legal threat and has no legal responsibility to remove such blogs.

    Like

  33. isagani x, m.a.

    NO TO CENSORSHIP!

    Like

  34. asyayusof

    because of this problem i have to move my blog,because i am a turkish writer.If my turkish readers cant come to my blog and read my recepies,then there is no point of using my wordpress i am going to move to another blog

    I honestly think this is ridiculous. I have hundreds of Turkish raters and none of them have access to my website anymore.

    I am hoping that worpress will find a solution with the turkish government

    Like

  35. anggara

    i don’t think that wordpress should ban any blog, especially if that blog containt any information preotected by the ICCPR, the government may blocked the internet access to those blog but can’t force to banned any blog hosting in out of their country

    Like

  36. Mia

    Free speech right?

    So let them ban WordPress if they like, dont give in to their demands. If you let them win this battle theyll start demaning more and more and soon theyll be completely dictating what your WordPress users can or can not write. It’s fascism, dont let them do it.

    You guys are not responsible for what the Turkish government choses to do to its people, its up to the turkish people themselfes to fight that battle. You guys need to follow your own rules stated here at WordPress.com, not the rules of some stranger who is trying to threaten you.

    Like

  37. jd2718

    It’s probably not a great thing for their EU application. The guy, as you’ve figured out, is a creationist, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harun_Yahya , and has a following, but is not exactly mainstream.

    You’ve got a lawyer. Write to the court and to the Consulate in Washington. Worth a try.

    Like

  38. Ed Darrell

    I think we should all petition the European Union to discuss with the Turkish government the insanity of letting anti-science partisans censor a million blogs simply to assuage one very sensitive person.

    If Adnan Oktar is offended, let him use some of his millions of dollars to take out an advertisement in a newspaper to set the record straight.

    If the blogs he cites truly are slanderous, let him sue for slander. Prior restraint in this fashion is the tool of totalitarians and others of small mind and disrespect for knowledge and freedom.

    Oktar’s actions hold all of Turkey up to ridicule. Turkey’s government should decide which they’d rather have — free discussion that insults one of their millionaires, or ridicule for the entire nation.

    Oktar slanders others often. His nasty words against scientists, against great people like Charles Darwin and the sciences of biology, are scurrilous in the extreme. He has a lot of gall to complain.

    Like

  39. Anita Marie

    Foundation For Scientific Research Goes Global With Glitzy Promotion Attacking Evolution

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/08/03/world/main3130688.shtml

    Oktar’s brand of creationism is not only religious, but also political and even messianic, seeing most of the world’s ills – terrorism and fascism among them – as stemming from Darwin’s theory of evolution.

    Like

  40. thordora

    Wow. I have nothing to add but wow. Remind me not to make anyone angry in the Turkish Government. I agree with the sentiment that bowing to their demands would set a dangerous precedent though.

    Like

  41. Pingback: Turkish creationists censor 1 million WordPress blogs « Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub .
  42. cyclepromo

    As noted as long as the blogs meet WordPress standards they should stay up. Generating some PR into the regular Turkish media should not be to difficult if you use all the connections of the WordPress community.
    Unfortunately I can see this happening more in the future once more people switch over to use wordpress. Than the lawsuits start to appear.

    Like

  43. Tim Bass

    Censorship, extremism and radicalism are serious world problems, and the problem seem to be getting worse.

    Like

  44. Todd Wood

    My wife and I were in Turkey this spring. Loved it.

    Are religious factors entered into any of this?

    Like

  45. Ed Darrell

    By the way, I blogged about Adnan Oktar in November of last year. As a lawyer, I read this threat letter as demanding that you take down my blog.

    http://timpanogos.wordpress.com/2006/11/22/voodoo-historian-harun-yahya-and-anti-evolution-in-turkey/

    Let me know if you plan to take our blogs down, so I can move the content. Thank you.

    Like

  46. Matt

    Ed, I wouldn’t worry.

    Like

  47. darvish

    I would publicize it as much as possible, especially in the EU countries. Turkey cannot expect to join the EU when a fruitcake and his lawyer can effectively censor any critics of his radicalism.

    Like

  48. Pingback: WordPress Blocked (Censored) in Turkey. « Life in West Tennessee
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  51. peterhgregory

    The major U.S. and EU news networks would love to see this. In fact they may have picked up on this already.

    I would either a) not reply at all, or b) reply by saying something like, “We are sorry that you have chosen to block WordPress. We are run in a modern country where censorship is not practiced. Thank you and have a nice day.”

    Above all, take no action!!

    Peter

    Like

  52. Rose

    Ridiculous.

    I can’t say I’d be pleased to find myself or anyone I remotely liked criticized in a bunch of carbon-copy blogs, but so far, the universe hasn’t ordered itself to my preferences. In other words: tough nuts, guys.

    Send the Turkish lawyers a copy of the Bill of Rights, and suggest they have a nice day.

    It’s sad, for Turkish users of WordPress. :-( The Turkish government should be ashamed, bowing to the sensitive widdle feewings of some rich blowhard to the extent they’ll censor a jillion blogs that have nothing to do with the issue at hand.

    Of course, I’ve no doubt there are plenty of rich blowhards in the US who wish they could do the same.

    *raspberries*

    Like

  53. oceallaigh

    I hate to think of a million blogs as “minor”, but, on the data available to me (insufficient), this case sure looks like a miniature version of Google in China. Google said show me the money. Is WordPress in the same boat? Does WordPress need income from Turkey to keep financiers happy? If this were America, an appeals court could quickly overturn the lower court’s restraining order on appeal. Is this option available in Turkey? If so, is it available to WordPress representatives? Has WordPress the resources, or the will, to pursue this option?

    On principle, I’m against bowing to efforts to censor blogs – or any political speech – in this way. But we might find ourselves finding such censorship increasingly difficult to combat. Enough lawyers could destroy the Internet. At least, the Internet as we know it. Think about it.

    Like

  54. tolga

    This is only an indication that there is not so called as democracy in Turkey. And not only the state is responsible for that. I cannot understand the Turkish guys who complains about this censorship and keeps saying “it is not may fault, I did not have any illegal content” whatever.. You should be able to say whatever you wanna say, dammit! No, I am not, myself, ashamed of being a Turkish blogger, shame on all those bloggers who cannot directly say: “Whatever the reason is, I am against this antidemocratic state apparatus that causes censorships so easily.” Think about it once. Why is it that easy in your country?

    Like

  55. Ergo

    Matt,

    We blog here at the gracious permission of you guys at WordPress. Ultimately, the decision should be yours entirely whether or not you choose to take a blog down. However, I would urge that you do not take any blogs down unless your policies have been violated, there is some actionable threat in the content of the blogs (against you or others), or is abusing your service in some way you find objectively inappropriate.

    Defamation is protected free speech, and therefore, I argue that you should let the blogs remain. Besides, you must insist on following the letter of United States law, not that of any other nation.

    Like

  56. www19org

    Dear Matt:

    I am Edip Yuksel, who is mentioned by Adnan Oktar and his followers.

    Adnan Oktar is a cult leader who have enslaved many children of rich and elite. His sexual and mental abuse of his subjects is a well known fact to Turkish people. His confession in police alone, which is corroborated by his former followers to details, is sufficient to put him behind bars. But so far, money, connections, blackmail and all the tricks available to his wellconnected and super rich followers have kept him out of trouble. But his days are numbered and now there is a major case against him in Turkish courts for black mail and illegal activities.

    He has censored hundreds, yes hundreds of websites exposing his abusive dealings in his cult. By using backward laws in Turkish legal system, he was able to ban my site. Though I hired an attorney in Turkey from Arizona, and though I transferred the article from http://www.19.org (which was very popular among progressive minded muslims in Turkey) to another site, and though my attorney removed the court’s order for ban, yes despite all of those, his cult was able to use their informants and connections in Turkish Telecom to keep my site blocked for Turkish population.

    I am a Turkish author and escaped to the United State for my freedom of expression. Unfortunately, during my last visit I had to appear at the Turkish court because Adnan and his followers sued me for frivolous claims. They tried their best to make me get arrested. They even used their trolls at airport police station to stop me from coming back my home in the USA. After I left Turkey, they submitted to Turkish prosecutors some of my article critical of repressive laws, Turkish military’s meddling with politics, and racist policies against Kurds. I recently learned that, upon this audacious cult’s campaign against me, there are now several charges against me in Turkish courts, and I am sought by police.

    Below is the article that has made the paranoid cult leader so furious, leading him to put me on the top of his long list “enemies.” (The article is now posted at the following site and is blocked to Turkish population: http://www.yahyaharun.com ).

    [article redacted for length]

    Like

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  58. 2046

    Here’s some background info on censorship in Turkey:

    Reporters Without Borders: Turkey – Annual Report 2007:

    http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=20827

    Censoring the Internet: The Situation in Turkey (published in 2002):

    http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue7_6/altinta/index.html

    Like

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  60. Catholic Writer

    I would say that the right to free speech does not constitute the right to defame another person, or to tarnish his or her reputation… just like the right to make one’s own choices and act on them does not constitute the right to kill another person. The privilege of freedom comes with the responsibility to use it correctly.

    This paragraph…

    “In order to make people hear our voice, let everyone start new blogs from websites such as http://blogcu.com or http://wordpress.com and let them copy the posts on those blogs and paste them to their own. You can start several at once, if possible. Please remember that the name you will give to the blogs, should be related to Adnan Oktar or Harun Yahya in order to find them quickly through Google search. If the names are already taken, you can solve this problem by using characters such as “_” (Adnan_Oktar) or numbers such as AdnanOktar100, Adnan_Oktar_50.”

    … is clearly an abuse of WordPress’ privilege of free blogs with the aim of defaming Mr Adnan Oktar, and encouraging others to do the same. While we do should not actively seek out blogs to ban or remove, we should take complaints seriously and have them properly addressed. Both sides should also be given the opportunity to explain why the blog should or should not be removed.

    If WordPress does not take action, it would be seen as implicit support for the right to defame another person, and WordPress could, and would, lose credibility.

    Like

  61. homesweethome

    Let me see if I understand this. This guy is being prosecuted for intimidation of media, yet they are letting him make the decision on what millions of other Turkish citizens can read? And he didn’t like what a handful of blogs said, so instead of going after the individuals- he takes down the whole site in Turkey? Is that correct? So does Turkey usually allow the persons accused of crimes to censor others and make new laws?

    Like

  62. Rushi Vishavadia

    For those who don’t know about Harun Yahya – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harun_Yahya – Apparently he is a Muslim creationism advocate.

    Like

  63. Budi Rahardjo

    Hmm… I think the problem is this:

    Somebody is using http://adnanoktar.wordpress.com to pretend that he/she is Adnan Oktar. If the person is using another name, not AdnanOktar, it might be a different story. My suggestion is to approach whoever using “adnanoktar” and investigate further. Perhaps changing the name would solve the problem?

    [It's like if I use "MattMullenweg.wordpress.com" to write bad things about wordpress. You know, Matt, you should claim that address. It's still available. I wouldn't dare taking it.]

    Second problem, it seems that wordpress support did not respond quickly enough. Look at the begining … “unanswered”. Even email to you did not get answer. That’s why the resort to the next step: legal. Had you (or WordPress customer support) responded promptly, things might be different. Maybe …

    I could be wrong, though. (As in many cases …)

    PS: Maybe we should learn from Google in China?

    Like

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  65. jeremiahandrews

    As a Major in Religious Studies, these areas of ‘cult’ ‘creationism’ ‘Islam’ and the likes are problematic because of our right to free speech, there are certain ideological groups who want to purport their ideas. As we know Turkey is vying for a spot on the EU and Islamic Extremists are trying to stop this.

    Islamic Extremists and cults of the same are growing in number are have, and we know this as fact, are using the internet to spread their ideas, hence the ban in Turkey. We know that the web is blocked in countries like China so this is not new news.

    May I suggest a calm headed approach to issues surrounding Islam and cult behavior. Unless Word Press is contacted directly by such court or government office, we should stay the course and not prohibit publications.

    BUT in the same breath we must be vigilant of offensive content that might be perceived as religiously sensitive in areas that are not “Westernized” We must always approach religious issues with the lens of suspicion and scholarly inquiry. As we must understand that all areas of the world do not share our ideas of certain truths, rights, and freedoms.

    I would not wade into the water too deeply, lest we drown in the politics of religious extremism and Islamic fundamentalism or religious ideology. We in the west take for granted what is prohibited in many Eastern and Islamic countries. So one must tread lightly but professionally to claims such as these.

    One must find what is truth and what is speculation and sensationalist slander to keep someone from publishing their views. Because you know Islam, as fact, takes written word, tradition and teaching to be very serious. And Turkey is on the map having dealt with many issues recently and ongoing. We must respect the customs and traditions of another culture lest we be totally judgmental and narrow minded.

    Religion is a way of life in Eastern countries and we must respect that, and if they ban such websites from view, they would not be the first and surely not the last. So before we go making any decisions on what to do we must first find out what is FACT and what is Not.

    Does Word Press have access to legal counsel? I suggest also that you take into consideration the religious temper of the location, the ideology in question and the beliefs of one of the Major religions of the world and what lengths some will go to to quell the tide of speech. Remember Rushdie and what he went through?

    If this man is a leader of a sect or rival cult averse to the teachings of Islam, and the traditions of the religion, we might want to be very careful in our words and actions. Because they will have far reaching consequences around the world. We should not wade into religious politics that are incendiary… because there will be more fire where there is a spark…

    I don’t think Westerners understand world religions enough to make a correct stance without some religious education on history and mystery. We must be right in our actions and not think with a Western slant to all issues, because all issues are not the same in the East and Middle East. We must treat with sensitivity any claim to religious intolerance depending on the region involved. Westerners do not see the rest of the world with eyes of a scholar or student because of how we grew up – so we must look at the rest of the world with a scholarly gaze.

    That is my religious thought for the night. I knew my degree would come in handy eventually!!

    Jeremy
    Religion Scholar B.A.P.M.

    Like

  66. pdtnc

    This achieves just one thing… Publicity!
    Mr. adnan oktar is now getting more page hits and spreading his ‘Theory’ to more people in more countries than previously able.

    I’m always the skeptic, and from the images online of Mr. oktar it seems he is somewhat of a self-styles cult leader with his ‘oh so shiny suit’ :D *Reads – OTT American Evangelism!*

    Everyone just Wiki’d him, and everyone just Googled him… this has to be one step below viral marketing!

    I would personally, be talking to Amnesty International about online censorship and ignoring any calls to remove blog that don’t appeal to Mr. oktar

    Doesn’t Dr. oktar Make nice Yogurt? ;)

    Like

  67. Root

    I don’t think that anyone should for one minute underestimate the gravity of this. Automattic is a pretty small outfit. Getting tangled up in litigation with other jurisdictions could be really messy. The big lever is the application for membership of the EU. Not that they are likely to get any such thing. But their Government hates any thing like this which puts them overtly out of step. Public embarrassment in the blogosphere is a powerful tool.

    Like

  68. Pingback: wordpress neden yasaklandı? « homo nihilis
  69. ClapSo

    I think wordpress has been handling it right so far. Let the legal department handle it. If turkey won’t lift the ban, sue turkey in US courts to get the ban lifted. An international incident involving free speech and cyberspace is fun to watch!

    Do you have the email of the turkish judge handling this case? We can send him a few emails.

    The scientifically impossible I do right away
    The spiritually miraculous takes a bit longer

    Like

  70. Pingback: Turkish Blocking on WP.com: I Wonder… « sora-kun.weblog()
  71. Kelson

    Here’s a thought for anyone asking WordPress to comply so that Turkey will allow access to your own blogs: What happens when someone complains about yours, and demands that WordPress (or some other hosting site) take your blog down? Wouldn’t you want a host that will stick up for your right to keep publishing? Or would you rather have a host that will drop you at the first sign of a complaint?

    Like

  72. Pingback: Wordpress.com без достъпът от Турция « tin4e-blog
  73. Emir

    There is no need to remove any blogs – maybe certain blog entries that are based on false information and deliberately aimed at spreading lies about someone. That’s why you call it “good journalism”, when you say “In my opinion…” or “My thoughts on issue…” nobody can really hold you responsible, unless you say “That man is a rapist…” or “So and so is a murderer…” without a court decision claiming that.
    Other loophole: web-site owner and blogger who allow commentaries to their posts can not be held responsible for what their visitors may write on the issue. Now, I surmise that the law may not be the same in Turkey, so they might be able to censor whatever the hell they want, but this should be an adequate answer, followed up of course by a legal explanation of this issue from your legal advisers.

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  74. Pingback: tr.wordpress neden kapatıldı « Türkiye 2023 - Burada neler oluyor tıkla öğren…
  75. fritoy

    Matt

    Tell them to bring their case to a U.S. court, so we can tell them to go stuff themselfs.

    They are no more than a couple of thugs with a degree.

    Like

  76. Anna Mikkola

    Whether the guy is a creationist or not isn’t really relevant, I think. I think the point is if someone wants to publically say his ideas suck, they should be free to do so. I think there’s a larger crisis about freedom of expression, democracy, modernisation and religion in Turkey, and see no reason why wordpress should really say anything to it. WordPress is really not part of the problem, as some would obviously have it, and I think it would be foolish to get mixed in this and in a way admit to being just that.

    The only thing I wonder about is the blog http://adnanoktar.wordpress.com. I can’t read Turkish, so I can’t say what’s going on, but isn’t someone there basically blogging in someone else’s name?

    If so, then that is a problem.

    Like

  77. Joan

    This is ludacris. WordPress has to stand on it’s principles, and not allow things like this. Turkey is not precisely a very democratic country, plus we’re talking about someone who is a creationist. We can’t let this kind of people dictate what others can say.
    Turkey should never be allowed to join the EU until they don’t respect human rights, there’s real freedom of speech and real laicism.

    Like

  78. jimcolella

    Hi Matt/Word Press community

    I am a Brit Word Press blogger based in Istanbul following this crazy situation unfold since last Friday (Aug. 17). First of all: DON’T REMOVE ANYTHING! There is no reason why Word Press should capitulate to lawyers acting on behalf of some creationist nut who appears to have been hauled through the Turkish courts himself. In fact, while I have no idea of the legal basis for this — i.e., that any Turkish lawyer can fire off a couple of letters to your organization and, on the basis of being “ignored” and “slander,” file to have the whole site blocked across the country — the move seems absurd even by Turkish legal standards. On that basis, then they should file to even have the Wikipedia entry (which describes him as having spent time in a mental hospital) and anything else on Adnan Oktar blocked. Word Press should move to have the block removed through legal means, as well as the Turkish Internet community voicing their concerns by any and all means necessary.

    What I do know about Turkey, after having been here for two and a half years, is that all state institutions are fervently pro-secular and anti-anything that smacks of religious interference, which this obviously is. I don’t think Word Press would have too hard a time challenging it legally, especially with enough media attention. And despite the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government’s Islamic roots, ANYTHING that embarrasses their EU membership process, particularly one that smacks of religious backwardness, will have an effect when placed under the media spotlight.

    On that score, I’ve found there is already a Facebook petition to protest the blockage (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=4940847710) and I would strongly recommend all interested parties to write to Al Jazeera’s “Listening Post” programme via their Web site — a great TV prog that covers precisely these types of issues, i.e., freedom of speech… precisely what I’m going to do as soon as I log out of this.

    I also wrote a short piece on the Word Press block as soon as I found out and posted it on citizen-journalist site NowPublic.com (http://www.nowpublic.com/wordpress-com-blocked-turkey), which has certainly garnered a lot of interest from those not aware of this. Again, any interested parties, especially the Word Press bloggers, please do add your comments to this, or even write your own piece for NP, and let everyone out there know just what the hell is going on.

    As for using TOR, changing your IP, etc., fine — it’s a short-term measure but does nothing to support freedom of speech. Turkey is not China! Turkey is an EU candidate country. It’s that simple!

    And as for Emre Sevince’s unsubstantiated assertion on Matt’s own site that everything is fine now (http://photomatt.net/2007/08/17/blocked-in-turkey/#comment-424503), that this was a technical error due to Turk Telekom/TTNet’s attempt at blocking one single WP blog re: military-related information now appears so way off-base in the light of all this, I would say that the whole situation is highly suspect… Basically, a lot of disinformation is flying around here.

    jimcolella.wordpress.com

    Like

  79. edezu

    Greetings.

    I’m writing from Turkey and thought that some info on this person may be helpful.

    Adnan Oktar is a religious zealot who launched a campaign against the Darwinian theory of evolution, maybe a decade ago. He has written a number of books, which, despite being worthless and even funny by scientific standarts, attracted the attention of religious people. In those fundamentalist circles, he is revered as the “destroyer” of evolutionary theory as the majority of islamists consider Darwinian evolution as a refuted theory thanks to his books.

    As expected, his books and the ideas in them are worthless, mistaken, false, consisting of arguments refuted even by Darwin himself 140 years ago. Alas, he is a wealthy and powerful person, thus capable of reaching many people, by sending free copies of his huge books to every school, teacher, and university. Sadly, as the public he tries to reach is mostly uneducated, his words are taken to be the truth.

    As a result of this, turkish intellectuals and those of us lucky enough to get a secular education, with an understanding of what science is, and what an argument is, are giving his ideas what they deserve. He is respected in religious circles, but ridiculed in the internet.

    This person’s current strategy is to block all the sites which attacks him and his ideas. A few months ago, he made a similar move and blocked “eksi sozluk”, an open dictionary which is, in my opinion, a bastion of free speech in turkish online media, with more than 10.000 writers and about 2.000 entries each day.

    Adnan Oktar is taking advantage of the gaps in Turkish laws on the internet, which are sadly on their infancy, to silence all the voices against him. Internet poses a real threat to people like him, where ideas are exposed, and people read them!

    As a philosophy graduate who take active interest in evolution-creationism debate, and as a Turkish citizen with the ideal of freedom in the online world, I suggest NOT to cooperate with this person.

    We will reach our blogs anyway :)

    Like

  80. Pingback: Wordpress in der Türkei blockiert « Andros Welt
  81. raincoaster

    The issue has been submitted to some major media outlets in the EU and North America. Take my word for it.

    Like

  82. Pingback: Why Word Press is blocked in Turkey « istanbul despatches
  83. everfever

    As a Turkish citizen and blogger, I hope that WordPress does not give in to Harun Yahya/ Adnan Oktar’s demands! We want free speech.

    Like

  84. Da Vinci

    Anna Mikkola: “The only thing I wonder about is the blog http://adnanoktar.wordpress.com. I can’t read Turkish, so I can’t say what’s going on, but isn’t someone there basically blogging in someone else’s name?”

    He is blogging about Adnan Oktar. He is not pretending to be Adnan Oktar.

    Like

  85. solnul

    I’m all for free speech, and certainly Turkey handled this very poorly. But frankly, I don’t think this would make a very good test case. I’m concerned about how many people have taken a stand on the issue without understanding it better.

    First, many of the blogs using Adnan Oktar’s name aren’t written by him and aren’t intended to generate positive publicity for him.

    Second, I was only able to find out what a few of the pages said, but I think it’s possible they actually are libel. One had little except a long list of accusations of sexual misconduct, with no evidence cited.

    I am less than sympathetic to people using WordPress.com to spam unsubstantiated accusations at each other. This doesn’t mean I think the Turkish block is right or the blogs should go down, only that it’s not as clear-cut as I first thought.

    Like

  86. To MATI

    Turkey has a history banning online services.

    Turkish court bans YouTube access”

    So long, EU secular state, hello China.

    Like

  87. Tim Wheatley

    Let the court decide. You’ll be blocked until they do.

    If they decide to keep the censorship, then they obviously are taking on the most vocal community in the world and it’ll cause them damage in the world press eventually.

    Like

  88. peixesloucos

    These people applied a similiar ban on eksisozluk on 16/04/2007.

    http://sozluk.sourtimes.org

    At the moment you can not enter any description under the tag “adnan oktar” in eksisozluk.
    I hope wordpress can fight against this censorship against free speech.

    Like

  89. Pingback: Creazionismo? - MorphLog
  90. briosafreak

    Adnan Oktar is a known religious fanatic and anti semitic, a denier of the holocaust and with known sympathies for terrorist leaders . You can’t just gave up and let him win something that goes against free speech and the best American values.

    Cutting WordPress from the Turkish because of one single religious zealot would be a bad precedent, please fight this back, and help free expression and free thinking on the blogosphere.

    Like

  91. James17930

    But how is Oktar able to get these bans put in place? Turkey is a secular country with an independent judicial system — I find it extremely strange that this guy’s lawyer could simply petition the courts and all of a sudden all of WordPress is blocked.

    Have you gotten outside confirmation that this is what’s actually happening? And could WordPress present its case to the Turkish courts to try and get the ruling overturned?

    Given that their trying for EU membership, something like this sets a pretty bad precedent.

    Like

  92. Pingback: Wordpress bannato in Turchia « DaveriK
  93. Woeful

    You really need to base any decisions on your terms of service. Since WordPress is now banned, the authors of these blogs will undoubtedly move to Blogger, or Live Journal, etc… Do they intend to ban all blog services? I think this a tad bit reactionary on the Turks part, banning 14 blogs by restricting access to 1.3 million others! There’s a whole ocean of value being suppressed here in order to stifle a drop of rain…

    Like

  94. patlican

    Hello Matt and Word Press community,
    Adnan oktar is a radical islamists who is getting more effective nowadays in internationally.
    He passed over our Turkish borders as you see.
    Nowadays he is working on EU contries.
    He is getting out of our problem to your problem. :)

    Thousands of free copies of Adnan Oktar’ s nonsense, nonscientific books were gived up to children in France and some EU contries.
    But after a time his books PROHIBITED in France.
    No one knows the source of his income, how can he afford to organize these activities.

    On the other hand, he has some dark relationships with some fashion models.
    He has a lot of lawsuits about this dark relationships.

    Radical islamisist and fashion models!
    What a contradiction isn’t it? :D

    Here you can see an interview with Adnan Oktar (Harun Yahya ) about his books in France.

    http://oktar-babuna.net/fr_basintoplantisi.php

    Video has English , French , German and Italian subtitles.
    Watch carefully. Don’t impressed his intelligent ideas(!). :)

    And another blog about him in English Language. ;)

    http://whoisharunyahya.wordpress.com/tag/adnan-oktar/

    Like

  95. Pingback: Truly Sad - WordPress Censored in Turkey - Creationist Harun Yahya Involved « Evolution Space
  96. Pingback: Freedom of expression vs national sovereignty « Spartakan
  97. Pingback: Wordpress blocked in Turkey « pixelisation
  98. markp1

    I don’t think you should remove the blogs. Why should lawyers boss a site around? People who really want to get to there blog’s will get to them. Regardless of the way of them getting to them being via TOR or some other protocol of accessing WordPress.com blogs. So either leave it up or let legal handle it.

    Like

  99. Pingback: Ο Adnan Oktar, η λογοκριμένη τουρκική WordPress και ο… ελληνικός δάκτυλος « Λαπουτα
  100. Pingback: Turkey has blocked Wordpress.com « MindaCergas
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