Turkey opens up to WordPress blogs?

May 12, 2008

Last time we seriously checked in with Jim Gibbon it was for the haiku contest on research papers.

Comes this missive from Gibbon now, which suggests that the Adnan Oktar ban on WordPress blogs in Turkey was lifted as of May 3.  True?  Mr. Gibbon is in Turkey, I gather, which would put him in a position to know.

Was this a predictor of Oktar’s sentencing on May 9?

Hey, Turkey!  Welcome back!


Schadenfreude alert: Turkish creationist gets three-year sentence

May 10, 2008

Tape up your face to keep from smiling too broadly, schadenfreude being a sin or close to it.

Turkish creationist, bully and general gluteal carbuncle Adnan Oktar got sentenced to three years in prison yesterday, for the crime of creating an illegal organization for personal gain.

Adnan Oktar in October 2007 - on his yacht?

You remember Oktar: He’s the guy who publishes all those nasty anti-evolution and anti-science books, steals photos for his high-cost, low-information “atlas” of creationism, and successfully sued to shut down this blog’s availability in Turkey (Well, this blog and two million others on WordPress).

Reuters has a story on the affair:

A spokeswoman for his Science Research Foundation (BAV) confirmed to Reuters that Oktar had been sentenced but said the judge was influenced by political and religious pressure groups.

Oktar had been tried with 17 other defendants in an Istanbul court. The verdict and sentence came after a previous trial that began in 2000 after Oktar, along with 50 members of his foundation, was arrested in 1999.

In that court case, Oktar had been charged with using threats for personal benefit and creating an organization with the intent to commit a crime. The charges were dropped but another court picked them up resulting in the latest case.

Oktar planned to appeal the sentence, a BAV spokeswoman said. No further details were immediately available.

Oh, yeah — those political and religious pressure groups. And Oktar’s high dollar bullying of government authorities — what is that?

European, and Turkey, laws against political views may trouble one, justly. In a perfect world, there would be no need for such things, with good and true ideas having a good shot at winning in a fair fight. Oktar specializes in the sort of thuggery that makes a fight for ideas unfair. We might hope this latest action will simply help keep the playing field even, level and fair.

Resources:

The news is oddly silent about this otherwise.

Tip of the old scrub brush to The Sensuous Curmudgeon.


More but not enough freedom of speech in Turkey

January 26, 2008

Turkey changed its laws that completely forbade criticism of the government. Recent changes promoting freedom of conscience and speech do not change the fact that this blog, and a million others on WordPress, are still blocked in Turkey.

Remember the old Radio Free Europe? We need a Blog Free Turkey; a Blog Free China; a Blog Free Duncanville Independent School District.


National Humanities Medal to Bernard Lewis . . .

November 26, 2006

Generally there is just too much going on to follow all of it in the news, let alone understand it.

PanArmenian.net complains that historian Bernard Lewis’ being honored with the National Humanities Medal is a problem, labeling him a denier of the Armenian genocide. He was found to be so by a French court (does that increase his appeal to Bush?).

Lewis’ work is influential — here is a 2004 Washington Monthly piece by Newsweek correspondent Michael Hirsch, pointing out that Lewis is the guy who probably first coined the phrase “clash of civilizations” with regard to international relations with modern Islamic nations. Is he just one more Princeton University faculty member, like Ben Bernanke, who happens to have the ear of the President?

Teachers of history certainly should be familiar with the controversy over the Armenian genocide, its relation to post-World War I history, its salience in European politics today, and its effects on U.S. history (and especially U.S. literature — think William Saroyan, George Deukmejian, etc.). I admit I know very little about Lewis. I don’t know enough about him to make a judgment on whether the charges of the Armenian partisans are fair.

In my previous post I noted the rise of a superstar natural history prof, in England. Here in the U.S. the National Humanities Medal was awarded to nine people and one institution — one of the people is a Nobel Prize winner — and the news sank like a small, round stone in a small pond, without making much of a ripple.

If we can’t name some of the stars among historians and others in the humanities, are we doing our jobs? Are our newspapers and broadcasters doing their jobs if we don’t get this news?

Did President Bush honor a denier of the Armenian genocide? Our future relations with Islamic nations and peoples may depend on the answer. I don’t know. Do you?

Here is Lewis’ biography from the awards press release:

Bernard Lewis is considered by many to be the greatest living historian of the Muslim world. He has pursued his primary interest, the history of the Ottoman Empire, producing groundbreaking works including The Emergence of Modern Turkey, The Political Language of Islam, The Muslim Discovery of Europe, The Jews of Islam, and Islam and the West. His most recent publication is From Babel to Dragomans: Interpreting the Middle East. Other titles by Lewis: The Crisis of Islam: Holy War & Unholy Terror; What Went Wrong: The Clash Between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East; Western Impact and the Middle Eastern Response; A Middle East Mosaic: Fragments of Life, Letters and History; The Multiple Identities of the Middle East; and The Middle East: A Brief History of the Last 2,000 Years. Born in London, England, in 1916, Lewis became attracted to languages and history at an early age. Lewis’s interest in history was stirred thanks to his bar mitzvah ceremony, during which he received as a gift a book on Jewish history. He graduated in 1936 from the then School of Oriental Studies (SOAS, now School of Oriental and African Studies) at the University of London with a B.A. in history with special reference to the Near and Middle East, and obtaining his Ph.D. three years later, also from SOAS, specializing in the history of Islam. During the Second World War, Lewis served in the British Army in the Royal Armoured Corps and Intelligence Corps in 1940-41, and was then attached to a department of the Foreign Office. After the war he returned to SOAS, and in 1949 he was appointed to the new chair in Near and Middle Eastern history at the age of 33. In 1974 Lewis accepted a joint position at Princeton University and the Institute for Advanced Study, marking the beginning of the most prolific period in his research career. In addition, it was in the United States that Lewis became a public intellectual. After his retirement from Princeton in 1986 as the Cleveland E. Dodge Professor of Near Eastern Studies, Lewis held many visiting appointments. Lewis has been a naturalized citizen of the United States since 1982.


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