Pitch.com, an alternative weekly in Kansas, has an excellent article about the ensuing Kangaroo Court in Kansas:
Unlike traditional media outlets that usually shirk any attempt at understanding the issue, and instead just present “both sides” as if they were coequal, Pitch writer Tony Ortega actually tackles the important question: Who are these people and what are they doing here?
It turns out that one of the people being brought to Kansas to testify (on the taxpayers’ dime) is Mustafa Akyol, an Islamic creationist from Turkey who belongs to a rather shady group known as the BAV. The group has made its mark by publishing and distributing literature from Harun Yahya. Sadly, their tactics have worked well in Turkey…
Turkey is a secular country that aspires to join the European Union and boasts several institutions of higher learning on a par with good Western universities. But beginning in 1998, BAV spearheaded an effort to attack Turkish academics who taught Darwinian theory. Professors there say they were harassed and threatened, and some of them were slandered in fliers that labeled them “Maoists” for teaching evolution. In 1999, six of the professors won a civil court case against BAV for defamation and were awarded $4,000 each.
But seven years after BAV’s offensive began, says Istanbul University forensics professor Umit Sayin (one of the slandered faculty members), the battle is over.
“There is no fight against the creationists now. They have won the war,” Sayin tells the Pitch from his home in Istanbul. “In 1998, I was able to motivate six members of the Turkish Academy of Sciences to speak out against the creationist movement. Today, it’s impossible to motivate anyone. They’re afraid they’ll be attacked by the radical Islamists and the BAV.”
Sayin is well aware of Mustafa Akyol, whom he identifies as one of BAV’s many volunteers. (Akyol himself has described his role for the group as that of a spokesman.) The organization’s source of funding and internal structure are well-guarded secrets, Sayin says. The Turkish government, he adds, refuses to take an interest, tacitly encouraging the ongoing effort against scientists.
“It’s hopeless here,” Sayin says. “I’ve been fighting with these guys for six years, and it’s come to nothing.” As a result of the BAV campaign and other efforts to denounce evolution, he adds, most members of Turkey’s parliament today not only discount evolution but consider it a hoax. “Now creationism is in [high school] biology books,” Sayin says. “Evolution is presented [by BAV] as a conspiracy of the Jewish and American imperialists to promote new world order and fascist motives … and the majority of the people believe it.”
Let’s see… calling evolution a vast conspiracy, likening those who teach it to communists and fascists, harassing and slandering the scientific community, and doing it all with the government’s implied consent. Sounds kind of familiar. But it could never happen here, could it?
[William] Harris included Akyol on a list of witnesses whom he wanted brought in to testify on behalf of intelligent design in this week’s hearings.
Harris says he hasn’t heard of BAV. Told of the group’s harassment of biologists in Turkey and evolution’s defeat there, he replies, “Great! Congratulations! I mean, that is the point, once people start to see science more objectively.”
Anyway, go read the entire article; it’s excellent through and through.