Concerns about censorship have risen in Turkey since November when the Council of Information Technology and Communications (BTK) placed blocks on websites that contain the words “Darwin” and “evolution.” This filtering system blocks websites about the theory of evolution, along with pornographic sites, to any Turkish computer user who has the children’s security profile activated on his or her computer.
Websites that remain unprotected include those referencing the theory of creationism, Intelligent Design and anti-evolution sentiments. While Turkey is often considered one of the most secular Islamic countries, it also houses a significant population of Islamic creationism believers. The Telegraph reports that it may be the sentiments of this group that provided the impetus for the evolution website filtering. Journalist Tom Chivers writes: “A 2006 survey of 34 countries put Turkey 34th, just behind the US, in the rate of popular acceptance of evolution.”
Chivers questions the increasing number of Turkish medical and biology students who are rejecting evolution, the very foundation of their studies. He argues that denying evolution is equivalent to denying gravity, and that students sell themselves short if they believe otherwise.
To me, the censorship of any scientific theory unrelated to obscene or inappropriate content is a cause for concern. Internet users can check which sites are forbidden on guvenlinet.org and vote against having sites banned. It is unclear, however, how many votes are necessary to remove a website from the filtering program.
Photo from ellenm1 via flickr