News / Europe

    Turkey Blocks Web Pages Touting Darwin's Evolution Theory

    Demonstrators protest against the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey [TUBITAK] over the exclusion of articles commemorating Charles Darwin's 200th birthday from a scientific journal published by TUBITAK, in Ankara, Turkey, March 2009.
    Demonstrators protest against the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey [TUBITAK] over the exclusion of articles commemorating Charles Darwin's 200th birthday from a scientific journal published by TUBITAK, in Ankara, Turkey, March 2009.
    Dorian Jones

    The blocking by Turkish state authorities of Web pages advocating the theory of evolution has put the focus on wider concerns by teachers and academics that the ideas of Darwin increasingly are being undermined by the Islamic-rooted government.

    Numerous web pages advocating the theory of evolution recently were deemed unsafe for children by Turkey's regulatory board controlling the Internet.

    Yaman Akdeniz of Istanbul's Bilgi University is an expert on Internet freedom.

    "The authorities are trying to establish one view, one morality that the youngsters of our generation should subscribe to," said Akdeniz.

    Undermining evolution

    The result was an outcry by the media and academics. Soon after, regulatory authorities re-instated the web pages, with the regulatory authority claiming the ban was a "clerical error." Recent media reports, however, say the evolution sites still remain blocked in schools.

    The controversy is not only confined to the Internet. Professor Asli Tolon is a molecular biologist at Istanbul's Bosphorus University. She has been tracking the changes in how evolution is taught in school text books.  

    Tolon said the idea of evolution increasingly is undermined by creationists who argue the world was created by God.

    "Here, there is this, how life evolved. This part is quite scientific, but then right after that, it starts with the creation, the view of creation, which should really not be in a scientific book, because this is a religious view," said Tolon.

    Tolon said the result of such changes are increasingly being felt by her students.

    "They sometimes get the idea, that I am trying to teach them my own views. But this is not mine, because evolution is one of the basic theories," said Tolon.

    Balancing the teaching


    Mustafa Akyol, columnist and writer on religious affairs, said alternative theories to evolution have a place in education.

    "There are some scientific facts in nature that point to a design by some intelligent being which is not a part of nature, this being might be God. This cannot be a reason to reject data just simply because it’s compatible with religion. I think a fair and objective scientific education should allow Darwin evolution and also critics of Darwin evolution," said Akyol.

    Turkey's teachers are now increasingly being caught in the middle of the deepening dispute.

    The country's main teaching trade union frequently complain that science teachers are facing increasing intimidation by the education ministry, local authorities controlled by the governing AK party and even religious parents.

    The government has dismissed such claims. But one teacher, who did not want to give her name, said teaching evolution is increasingly difficult.

    "In my school, three out of five science teachers now only teach creationism," she said, adding that she faces daily pressure from fellow teachers who are religious, and from some families of children who complain about her teaching evolution.

    For teachers advocating evolution in Turkey's schools, they seem destined to be on the frontline of this ongoing struggle for the minds of the nation's young.

    You May Like

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.