Controversial Islamist author slams Darwin

ISTANBUL Fri Jun 8, 2007 1:23pm EDT

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ISTANBUL (Reuters) - The controversial author of books advocating an Islamic version of creationism claimed on Friday modern science had no monopoly on truth and insisted that his views were gaining ground.

In a bizarre news conference held aboard a luxury yacht off Istanbul's northern Bosphorus shores near the mouth of the Black Sea, Adnan Oktar, also known by his pen-name Harun Yahya, said the evils of the world were a direct result of Darwinism.

"Communism, fascism, and Freemasons stand on the tenets of Darwinism, and the world power of capitalism stands on the same ... Hitler and Mao were both Darwinists," said Oktar, immaculately dressed in an egg-shell white suit, necktie and sporting a trim beard and combed-back hair.

"We will not deceive ourselves that scientists have a monopoly on truth," he said.

Charles Darwin came up with the widely adopted evolutionary theory of natural selection in the 19th century.

Oktar, born in 1956, is the driving force behind a richly funded movement based in Turkey that champions creationism, the belief that God literally created the world in six days as told in the Bible and the Koran.

His teachings echo those of Christian fundamentalists in the United States, though he said he had no formal ties with them beyond "the exchange of information."

Yahya has triggered controversy in France when his lavishly illustrated "Atlas of Creation," which argues that Darwin's theory of evolution is at the root of global terrorism, was mass-mailed unsolicited to educators and libraries there.

France's Education Ministry was baffled and worried by the appearance of thousands of copies of the book, which carries over 700 pages of images comparing fossils with present-day animals to argue that Allah created all life as it is and that evolution never took place.

"DARK SPELL OF DARWINISM"

Oktar, speaking in Turkish, said one million of his books and movies were being downloaded from Internet sites every month. Copies of his books and movies had been distributed in 170 countries, he added.

"I think there is not a single person who has read my book and who does not believe there is no evolution," he said.

Scores of books by Yahya in different languages were on display aboard the yacht bearing titles such as "The Dark Spell of Darwinism," "A Historical Lie: the Stone Age" and "God's Gentle Artistry."

"People should not be afraid of books and people should be able to read books by Jews, Freemasons and atheists. We should not be prevented from reading any books," Yahya said.

But he ducked questions about funding of his movement.

"The publishing house finances the books, so I refrain from making any comment because I don't demand any money," he said.

Speculation about the group's financial backers ranges from Turkish Islamists to U.S. Christian activists.

Turkish commentators say the group's books, numbering more than 200, are probably written by a pool of writers. They have been translated into more than 50 languages.

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