İstanbul police early Monday detained 14 more followers of Adnan Oktar (62), a controversial Muslim televangelist known abroad as “Harun Yahya” over the work done on his anti-evolution theory, following the issuance of detention warrants by the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s office for 33 of Oktar’s followers.
According to a report by Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency, simultaneous raids for the remaining people in 11 provinces including İstanbul are underway. Oktar’s brother Kenan Oktar was among the detainees, reports said.
Oktar was detained and later arrested by a Turkish court in July along with 168 others for allegedly committing numerous crimes. His group has been accused of crimes including establishing a criminal organization, child sexual abuse, sexual intercourse with a minor, kidnapping, violating tax law and violating the anti-terrorism law.
Oktar, a well-known supporter of the anti-democratic policies of Turkey’s Islamist President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, first made headlines in the 1980s when he was arrested for promoting a theocracy, and he was also charged with blackmail and arrested in September 1999. However, the charges were dismissed after a two-year-long trial when the court found him to be mentally ill. He spent 10 months in a psychiatric hospital and after his release kept a relatively low profile.
Oktar established a foundation in 1995 and started publishing books on creationism. He became a household name after he launched a TV station in 2011 where his bizarre TV shows stirred up controversy and made him a favorite topic of Internet memes.
Oktar owns a TV station called “A9″ where he hosts a show discussing religious and social issues while surrounding himself with surgically enhanced women, who he refers to as his “kittens.”
Oktar surrounds himself with young women and good-looking men during his programs where he delves into everything from evolution theory to the “British deep state” on his A9 TV station. His critics claim that he brainwashes young women and men from wealthy families into joining his cult, a claim he has repeatedly denied.
The objectification of women in his shows often comes under heavy criticism from women’s rights groups and both conservative and secular segments of Turkish society. Bordering on obscenity, as scantily clad dancers perform in between Oktar’s speeches peppered with religious references, his shows often receive complaints to the country’s TV watchdog Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK).
His show was previously fined by RTÜK.