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Reassessing TV Sheikhs: Turkish Preacher Adnan Oktar Jailed for 1000 Years Over Sex Crimes

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As seen in the case of Oktar, while we can appreciate learning from different sources, we must always be careful to remember that truth lies only in Allah and the Holy Quran, and that the rest of our information is coming from sometimes inspiring, sometimes flawed, and yes – sometimes deeply disturbing human beings. 

Revealing a shocking and disturbing turn of events, a Turkish court on Monday has sentenced the well-known TV preacher Adnan Oktar to 1,075 years in prison over sex crimes. Oktar, who is also known by the names Adnan Hoca and Harun Yahya, has in recent years been labeled as one of Turkey’s most infamous cult leaders.

The author of “The Atlas of Creation”, Oktar was also well-known throughout the West for preaching about Islam and the Quran on his TV channel A9 TV, which had numerous programs about Islam in English. A9 TV, first broadcast in 2011, has drawn heavy criticism from Turkey’s religious leaders in later years – no doubt fueled by Oktar’s questionable and disturbing personal life as well.

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Oktar, whose TV appearances in which he claims to preach about Islam includes him surrounded by dancing and scantily clad women whom he calls “kittens”, has been detained since 2018 alongside 200 other suspects as part of a larger crackdown on financial and sexual crimes by Istanbul police. The court, sentencing him to 1,075 years in jail on Monday, has accused him of sexual assault, sexual abuse of minors, fraud, and attempted political espionage.

The trail, which was followed closely by media outlets in Turkey for months, revealed harrowing details of Oktar’s crimes, including some of his statements on the accusations as well. The 64-year-old reportedly told judges in December that he had around 1,000 girlfriends before being detained, stating:

“There is an overflowing of love in my heart for women. Love is a human quality. It is a quality of a Muslim”. He also stated on another occasion: “I am extraordinarily potent”.

Many of the victims of sexual abuse were also at the trial, with one of the women, identified as CC, stating that she and numerous other women were repeatedly abused by Oktar himself. Many of the women Oktar raped were also forced to take contraceptive pills, according to CC.

In accordance with the victim’s statements, Turkish police found 69,000 contraceptive pills at Oktar’s home – when asked about the pills, Oktar stated that they were only used to treat skin disorders and menstrual irregularities.

While the victims and their families may find some solace in Oktar’s 1,000-year jail sentence, the fact that someone with this much power and standing was allowed to abuse women for years remains an undeniable and horrifying fact.

The abuse of women, the sexualization of women, and the belittlement of women’s contribution to the study of Islam is not something new – and if this trial was a reminder in many things, it was also a reminder of the murky personal lives of many of the TV sheikhs and preachers that we look up to today.

It remains more important than ever to remember that these personalities and preachers are just people – we cannot expect anyone to fully provide a perfect example of how to live our lives, and we must remain vigilant when following these TV sheikhs and personalities for content that may speak to us and remember to stop ourselves before we start following these people for the wrong reasons.

With almost anyone and everyone able to contribute to the massive explosion of online information, it becomes a duty on our parts as readers and listeners to seek facts and information over personalities and social media presence. As seen in the case of Oktar, while we can appreciate learning from different sources, we must always be careful to remember that truth lies only in Allah and the Holy Quran, and that the rest of our information is coming from sometimes inspiring, sometimes flawed, and yes – sometimes deeply disturbing human beings.

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