France: Muslim anti-evolutionist schoolbooks

France's Education Ministry has warned schools around the country against Islamic creationism theories after several thousand copies of an anti-Darwinist book from Turkey were mailed to them, an official said. The lavishly illustrated Atlas of Creation by Harun Yahya, a shadowy figure who runs a large Islamic publishing operation from Istanbul, was sent to schools and universities over the past 10 days in a move that has baffled authorities, she said. The Turkish original of the 768-page book, which rejects evolution, first appeared in Turkey late last year when it was also sent unsolicited to schools. It sees Charles Darwin's theory of the "survival of the fittest" as the root of many of today's ills, including modern terrorism. The French official, who asked not to be named, said puzzled school rectors had alerted the ministry to the large-format book full of lavish photographs meant to show that current animal species look exactly like the fossils of their ancestors. "We asked them to be very careful because this book develops theories that are not in harmony with what the pupils learn," she said. "Our teaching is based on the theory of evolution. These books have no place in our schools." The book appears to have been mailed from Turkey and Germany to schools all around France. "We have no exact figures but I think they could number several thousand copies," she said. "They do not seem to have targeted specific areas," she added. France's five-million-strong Muslim minority, Europe's largest, is concentrated in some areas such as the Paris region. The Atlas of Creation is a novelty because it puts an Islamic twist on criticism of the theory of evolution, a cause championed by conservative Christians in the United States. Harun Yahya is a pseudonym for a reclusive Islamic teacher named Adnan Oktar. Turkish intellectuals say it covers a pool of writers since over 200 books in Turkish - and dozens translated into 51 other languages - have appeared under this name. The group's financing is unclear and it declines to answer questions about it. Speculation about its financial backers ranges from Turkish Islamists to US Christian activists. Darwinism became an issue in Turkey in the political turmoil before a 1980 military coup because leftist bookshops often touted Darwin's works as a complement to Karl Marx's theories. After the coup, the military-backed government added a paragraph about creationism to its high school science textbooks. Leading US creationists held several anti-evolution conferences in Turkey in the early 1990s. Atlas of Creation has over 500 pages of lavish photographs and a long essay arguing that Darwinism, by stressing the "survival of the fittest", was the original inspiration for racism, Nazism, communism and ultimately the terrorism of today. "The root of the terrorism that plagues our planet is not any of the divine religions, but atheism, and the expression of atheism in our times (is) Darwinism and materialism," it says. "Islam is not the source of terrorism, but its solution," it says. "God has made the killing of innocent people unlawful. God commands believers to be compassionate and merciful."

Source: (English)

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