ANKARA (AFP) — Turkey's main science council came under fire Wednesday after a magazine it publishes was reported to have been forced to scrap a cover article on Charles Darwin under pressure from managers.
Newspapers and academics slammed the incident as meddling by the Islamist-rooted government, which has long been accused of favouring religious-minded loyalists for senior posts at the council.
The mass-selling Hurriyet daily described the incident at the Scientific and Technological Research Council (TUBITAK) as "a typical spectacle of cosying up to the government," while the popular Vatan said it was "a scandalous example of censorship that will go down in science history."
The editor of Science and Technology, TUBITAK's prestigious magazine, confirmed in remarks to the Milliyet daily that the deputy head of the institution had forced her to scrap a cover article on Darwin and his evolution theory as the cover article of the March issue and replace it with global warming.
The issue was intended to honour the British scientist on the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth.
TUBITAK has not yet confirmed whether the editor, Cigdem Atakuman, was also removed from the post, as media reports said.
Like some believers in the Christian world, Turkish Muslims are generally hostile to Darwin's theory of evolution. There have been several incidents of teachers complaining of pressure not to teach the theory.
State Minister Mehmet Aydin, who oversees TUBITAK, also slammed the forced change of the magazine cover, even though he appeared to dismiss evolution as a "mistaken" theory.
"TUBITAK is supposed not to put censorship on science, but to open all doors to the development of science," Anatolia news agency quoted Aydin as saying.
The council "is supposed to reflect the views of all those who have served to science, no matter how mistaken they can be," he said.
The ruling Justice and Development Party, the moderate offshoot of a now-banned Islamist movement, is routinely accused of promoting an Islamist lifestyle in Turkey and of seeking to undermine the country's secular system.
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