2 Jun 2011

American Muslim Imams join clergy movement to accept evolution and ban creationist teaching in science classes

New Scientist  -   May 27, 2011

American Muslim clerics sign up for evolution

by Andy Coghlan

Almost 13,000 Christian clergy have done it. Nearly 500 Jewish rabbis have too. Now, Islamic teachers, or imams, have begun signing an open letter declaring that there is no clash between their religious faith and evolution.

The Imam Letter, launched this week in the US, is the latest challenge to fundamentalists of the three Abrahamic religions who reject evolution in favour of creationism. The Clergy Letter was launched in 2006 and now has 12,725 signatures, followed three years ago by the Rabbi Letter, which has 476 signatures.

Like its predecessors, the Imam Letter explains why it's OK for believers to accept the truth of evolution. It also calls for a ban on creationist teaching in science classes. "As imams, we urge public school boards to affirm their commitment to the teaching of the science of evolution," says the letter, written by T. O. Shanavas, a doctor in Michigan and member of the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo in Perrysburg, Ohio.

"It shows that evolution and science can transcend what some people see as quite deep religious divisions, providing a unifying factor representing common ground between them," says Michael Zimmerman of Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana, the architect of the Clergy Letter Project. "Christians are really excited about the Muslim letter," he says. "They realise that Islam is just as fractured as Christianity, with just as many people who take their scriptures out of context to deny the truth of evolution."

Recently, for example, an imam in London was hounded out of his mosque and has suffered death threats for openly declaring support for Darwinism. Likewise, in Christian communities, especially in the US, fringe fundamentalists continue to push for teaching of creationism in science classes.

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1 comment:

  1. A group of evolutionists sued Harun Yahya (Adnan Oktar) in Turkey

    by Aydin Turk, Turkish Atheist May 23, 2013

    Harun Yahya (Adnan Oktar) is the head of the largest creationist organization in Turkey, and perhaps in the whole Islamic world. His activities and influence is also felt internationally. He distributed tens of thousands of copies of his book, "The Atlas of Creation" to many prominent researchers and research institutes throughout the United States and Europe. He also carried out a campaign placing ads on the busses in London.

    But his main influence is felt in the Islamic world, especially in Turkey. And it is not only his creationist propaganda that causes the problem, but he and his followers have also been running campaigns to intimidate and suppress evolutionists and evolutionism in Turkey.

    In the recent years, he has been responsible for filing lawsuits that banned thousands of websites that had non-religious, evolutionist or atheist content in Turkey, including Richard Dawkins' website, wordpress domain, google groups and many others.

    His lawyers also abused a highly controversial clause in Turkish criminal code, which is the article 216 that makes it illegal to "insult and denigrate the religious beliefs of a part of the society" in Turkey. They used this clause to sue hundreds of atheist or evolutionist activists in Turkey in the recent years. Many of these lawsuits didn't end with conviction, but the purpose was mostly intimidation and pressure. These lawsuits hurt the freedom of speech quite a bit for atheists and evolutionists in Turkey in the recent years.

    Now a group of evolutionists in Turkey decided to fight back. The political environment is not convenient enough for them to focus on debunking his creationism yet, although this is also done on the internet to some degree, but there is a more pressing problem for Turkish atheists and evolutionists in Turkey, which is getting their freedom of speech back. Rising political islam in Turkey in the recent decades, coupled with Harun Yahya's activities in the recent years worsened the already weak state of freedom of speech for non-religious people in Turkey.

    For this reason, this group of evolutionists chose to focus on this aspect of the Harun Yahya (Adnan Oktar) problem. They filed a lawsuit against him that is based on the same article of the Turkish criminal law, article 216.

    In his works, Harun Yahya insults and denigrates evolutionists, materialists, atheists, etc and falsely accuses them with all sorts of evil. In fact, there are statements in Harun Yahya's works against materialists, atheists, evolutionist, communists, jews, etc that are a lot worse than the kind of expressions he has been suing others for.

    Many Turkish lawyers believe the article 216 can be interpreted in a broader sense to protect not only people who belong to a religion, but also those who are targeted due to the difference in their beliefs regarding religious matters. This makes it possible to use the same clause to sue Harun Yahya in a similar lawsuit as well.

    The group of evolutionists who filed this lawsuit have been emphasizing that their purpose is not to attack other people's freedom of speech, but to draw attention to the double standard and the unfair treatment of the evolutionist and atheist people in Turkey in the application of this law.

    Anyone who wants to contact the evolutionist group that filed the lawsuit can send an email to bilimseldusunce2001@yahoo.com.