Thursday, 9 April 2009

Darwin sparks creationism row in Turkey

Last month, the clash between evolution and creationism hit the front-pages of Turkey, with Darwin at the centre of the storm.

Popular science magazine, Bilim ve Teknik (Science and Technology) removed its Editor, Çiğdem Atakuman, over a decision to put Darwin on the cover. The magazine is published by the Turkish national science council TUBITAK.

According to New Scientist, Atakuman had planned a celebratory cover and feature article to coincide with the Darwin200 activities happening around the world. But just before it went to press Atakuman was removed from her post, the feature withdrawn and the Darwin cover replaced with one on global warming.

According to Turkish newspaper Milliyet (quoted in Nature), the editorial changes were ordered by TÜBİTAK's vice-president, Ömer Cebeci, who claimed Atakuman had secretly changed previously agreed content.

The move caused outrage in Turkey’s scientific circles. Nature reported that Üniversite Konseyleri Derneği (the Association of University Councils), an academic society representing young researchers, had called for Cebeci's resignation. A group of university professors planned to read a letter of protest inside TÜBİTAK's headquarters on 11 March. And commenters on the New Scientist article reported further demonstrations on 13 March.

Intense media coverage followed. With the country preparing for municipal elections on 29 March, evolution became a hot topic on the political agenda.

By 18 March, in the face of increasing public pressure, TÜBİTAK reversed the decision, reinstating Atakuman as Editor, and issuing a statement confirming its commitment to science and scientific literacy in Turkey.

No comments:

Post a Comment