American Biblical literalists are currently spending their time to complaining about the lack of equal time in Cosmos and fretting over whether Noah is sufficiently God-focused. But what's up in the Islamic world these days? Well, meet Adnan Oktar, a.k.a. Harun Yahya.
Oktar is a Turkish personality who's the subject of a profile in the online magazine Balkanist. Perhaps the best place to start with this fellow is his work Atlas of Creation, for which he's best-known in the U.S. It's a work of Islamic creationism that in 2007 he mailed off (unsolicited) to scientists all over the world. Scientists were not impressed.
But he's not without his adherents. Oktar owns the Turkish TV channel A9 and has a talk show that's what you'd expect to get if you threw Pat Robertson's Trinity Broadcasting Network, Las Vegas and Queens public access television into a blender. He promotes ideas such as the creation of an Ottoman-like "Turkish-Islamic Union" and is an enthusiastic fan of the current prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Typically Oktar appears in dapper Armani suits, surrounded by very blonde women with very distinctive makeup. It's probably safe to assume it matches your stereotypes about neither creationism nor Islam. Here he is, solemnly demonstrating "Gangnam Style" to his audience. He remains seated throughout:
Anthropologist Daniel Martin Varisco has referred to their theology as a "sexed-up Disney version of Islam." According to this Slate profile, Oktar tends to offer up these beautiful women as more evidence of creationism, though the women themselves have more interesting things to say about their looks and the line they're trying to walk between secular Turkishness and Islam: "People look at us and say, 'You can't be Muslims. Muslims cannot look like that.'"
Like so many flamboyant crackpottish personalities, the Internet only extends Oktar's reach:
His group operates "hundreds of websites", and several YouTube channels — the English language version has almost 12,000 subscribers, while the Turkish channel has well over 100,000. He also has about 38,200 followers on Twitter, and the peroxide blondes who appear on his show in drag make-up have tens of thousands of devotees as well.
For reference, the guy who dreamed up the Creation Museum and got so much press for debating Bill Nye has 20,000 Twitter followers or so. Here is a sample of Oktar's YouTube presence, which also includes videos about the secrets of the pyramids and crystal skulls maybe made by aliens:
All that's just the stuff that's out in the open. Oktar was arrested in the late 1990s and accused of all sorts of sex cult-like offenses:
The complaint stated that women had been instructed to practice giving oral sex on designated men, that one former member was coerced into having sex with 16 people, and that hidden cameras were placed in each bedroom so that Oktar could film followers having sex and blackmail them with the tape if they ever tried to leave the group. There were also descriptions of sex parties in which young women would be persuaded into performing sex acts on powerful politicians and other influential men so that Oktar could film them and use the footage to manipulate the man in question "to act in the group's interest". Members of the sect were also compelled to perform regular sexual favors for Oktar and others.
But the charges were later dropped, according to Vocativ. He's also been accused of anti-semitism, after a work of Holocaust denial was published under the name Harun Yahya, though he denies it's his work.
So the next time you're tearing your hair out over American creationists, at least remember we've got plenty of company.