Jul 11 2018

Turkish police arrest TV evangelist Oktar, seek 235 followers

Turkish police arrested controversial television evangelist Adnan Oktar and are seeking 235 of his associates and followers, state-run Anadolu news agency said.

The operation against Oktar, famous for his plastic-surgery enhanced female assistants, was launched early on Tuesday in five provinces of Turkey, Anadolu said. Oktar was detained at his mansion in Istanbul’s upscale Cengelkoy district after a brief skirmish between police officers and his guards, according to local media reports.

The crackdown on Oktar’s group, who are accused of charges including forming a criminal gang, sexual abuse and fraud, comes two days after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s inauguration as president with enhanced powers.  

Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate had slammed Oktar’s religious practices in January. He mixed discussions on Islam and social issues with dancing with his so-called “kittens” on live television. Oktar’s headline show on his TV channel A9 was suspended by Turkey’s television watchdog in February for violating women’s rights.

Oktar published a book, the Atlas of Creation, in 2006 under his pen-name Harun Yahya and distributed thousands of free copies to the media and other organisations. He argued that Darwin’s theory of evolution was at the root of global terrorism.

Oktar had previously been convicted of creating an illegal organization for personal gain. He successfully overturned the sentence, which carried a three-year jail term, in 2010. Oktar has also successfully blocked websites and internet content that criticised him and his organisation.