Propagating Islamic Creationism on the Internet

Martin Riexinger

Abstract

Although negative reactions accompanied the reception of Darwinism in the Islamic World from the beginning, a full fledged Islamic creationist movement did notappear before the 1970s. Originally it was restricted to Turkey, where Islamic groups attempted to undermine the materialist foundation of Marxism and Kemalism. From the late 1990s onwards the subject became popular among Muslims inthe diaspora. This was due to the efforts of Adnan Oktar alias Harun Yahya, ahitherto marginal figure in Turkey, to propagate his ideas via the Internet. The Internet allows him to adapt his propaganda constantly to new issues and creationistand anti-creationist publications and to recruit volunteers willing to translate hisbooks. Thanks to the combination of a neglected subject with the innovative use ofnew media Oktar gained the opinion leadership in this field. Even movements, the founders of which had attacked Darwinism, now refer to Oktar as main authorityon this issue. However, he failed to gain an equal degree of attention for topics like conspiracy theories and eschatology. In these fields he had to compete with a bulk ofexisting material in conventional media. The success of his former disciple Mustafa Akyol shows that using the Internet as main means of propaganda may restrict thepolitical impact. He became the chief Muslim ally of Christian creationists in the USA by managing to get published by respectable “old media”. For him the Internet only fulfils an auxiliary function.

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