Inside the country’s bizarre Islamic sect, led by Adnan Oktar, a.k.a. ‘Harun Yahya’, with followers dressed in drag-queen suits, promoting weird messages about consumerism, advocating for creationism, making use of soft-core pornography to spread its messages to a wider scope of audience by its chain of televangelist networks either on cable or on Internet, and most controversially, aggressively supporting Turkey’s incumbent, and scandal-laden, prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Read the in-depth article in Balkanist.
The group’s theology has been described as a “sexed-up Disney version of Islam” by anthropologist Daniel Martin Varisco, and the show can even get a little homoerotic. A pair of hunky twins named Onder and Ender make the occasional appearance, usually wearing matching muscle t-shirts and excessive bronzer. The camera ogles the two decorative sphinxes while Oktar praises them for their muscular beauty. The women — referred to as Oktar’s “kittens” or “harem” — pose for promo photos together in overtly sexual positions, often coupled with slogans like “I read the Qu’ran” printed across the pictures like postcards.
It all looks cartoonish, but the show has still managed to draw numerous noteworthy professors, politicians, and other prominent people who should probably know better. Since Oktar embraces his own form of neo-Ottomanism, and sees himself as something of a Sultan, many of his interviewees have been from the Balkan region. Not all of them travelled to the Istanbul studio to witness the weird sex cult atmosphere, but each of the following people will remain on one or more of Harun Yahya’s “hundreds of websites” forever: former Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic, Serbia’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Sladjana Prica, and University of Prizren Rector Mazllum Baraliu. Besides the Balkan figures, he’s also met with Madonna, and claims his Atlas of Creation made rapper Busta Rhymes convert to Islam.
One of Adnan Oktar’s plans is to preside over the creation of something he calls the “Turkish-Islamic Union”, which preliminary maps indicate would only cover about half of the Eastern hemisphere. Like members of Turkey’s current conservative government (especially Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu) and the international religious community known as the Gulen movement with whom the the Turkish leadership is engaged in a very public power struggle, Oktar believes Turkey should be at the center of a new global Islam, and often indulges expansionist fantasies about the resurrection of the Ottoman Empire. Bulent Aras, Professor of International Relations at Isik University, described their aim to “Islamize Turkish nationalism and to Turkify Islam”. The Armani-clad Adnan Oktar shares other values with the current Turkish leadership: relentless consumerism, evidenced in Prime Minister Erdogan’s obsession with bulldozing parks and public spaces to build shopping malls, coupled with a renewed embrace of religion.
‘The Turkish-Islamic Union’, an absurd, messianic Muslim hegemony Harun Yahya envisions through his army of televangelists.