Allegations of sexual abuse and fraud have led to the arrest of Adnan Oktar, a Turkish TV preacher known for being surrounded by scantily-clad young women known as 'kittens'. Who was he? ?? #adnanoktar pic.twitter.com/azJGdYS49L— BBC Newshour (@BBCNewshour) July 11, 2018
A Turkish television evangelist has been arrested from his home, along with over 200 of his followers, in a series of raids after he was accused of running a cult.
Adnan Oktar, a notorious preacher who has long been considered a laughing stock, was arrested in Istanbul after the city’s police financial crime units raided 120 residences on July 11 after criminal complaints filed by plaintiffs aged between 11 to 40.
This is not the first time Oktar has been arrested. The preacher has earned a degree of infamy, both in Turkey and abroad, and has been arrested multiple times in the past. He has also spent time in mental hospitals over the years.
Oktar operates his own television channel, A9, through which he delivers “sermons,” which are allegedly light on religion and heavy on erotica. His broadcasts bizarrely involve scantily-clad women in heavy makeup — whom he refers to as “kittens” and tells to belly dance — and athletic young man whom he refers to as “his lions,” who sing for him.
Oktar also has highly controversial views involving evolution and has claimed it was the root of global violence. He has written more than 300 books, including one called the “Atlas of Creation,” using a pen name Harun Yahya. Multiple copies of his book have been exported to scholars and libraries, even to the United States — without request — and the volume has been slammed for its many errors about the drawings of animals inside it, including a picture of a plastic fishing bait fly, complete with hook.
He has also created a website dedicated entirely to criticizing BBC, which he claimed “generally acts in line with emotions aroused by the fact that Darwin was British.”
He has also been frequently condemned by Ali Erbas, head of Turkey’s Diyanet religious affairs agency, who said Oktar had “likely lost his mental balance.”
Turkish broadcast regulatory authority has issued a five-episode suspension over the row, citing his program violated women’s rights and gender equality.
According to the arrest warrant, Oktar and his followers are accused of forming a criminal organization, sexual assault, sexual abuse of children, child kidnapping, money laundering, blackmailing, false imprisonment, violation of privacy, coercion, use of violence, smuggling, tax evasion, torture, bribery, fraud by exploiting through religion, illegal recording of personal data, violating citizen’s rights to participate in politics and get education.
According to Turkish daily newspaper Hurriyet, 166 of Oktar’s followers were arrested although the warrant is out for the arrest of 235 people. Security forces also seized more than 50 guns with ammunition, body armors, arms cache and armored vehicles at the preacher’s residence. State-run news agency said Oktar was caught as he was trying to flee.
As he was being taken away by the police, Oktar told journalists the accusations against him were a conspiracy of “British intelligence.”
“The British intelligence has long wanted an operation to be launched on us. A delegation was sent to Turkey in this regard. This request was conveyed to [President Recep Tayyip Erdogan] during his visit to the UK,” he said.
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Istanbul Police Department / Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images