Thursday, 14 August 2014

Turkish Atheist Group Suing Islamic Scholar For Libel

Dr. Nihat Hatipoğlu (source)
In Turkey, an Islamic religious scholar (elsewhere called a 'pundit'), Dr. Nihat Hatipoğlu, said some ridiculous and potentially damaging stuff on a television programme recently and now he's being sued by the Turkish atheist group Ateizm Derneği (Atheism Association).

Atheists file lawsuit against scholar Hatipoğlu over insulting remarks

In an interview on a national station, he brings out a few of the common canards that theists drag out. He starts out with the notion that atheism is merely a rebellion because, deep down inside, us atheists actually do believe in God. Then he adds the that old mouldy chestnut that there are no atheists in foxholes.
Releasing a written statement about the issue, Ateizm Derneği argued that Hatipoğlu, during a Ramadan program titled “Nihat Hatipoğlu ile İftar Saati" aired in July by the private ATV channel, which is broadcast throughout the country, exceeded the limits of criticism by insulting atheists with the words: "Every atheist in fact resorts to God. I do not believe that any of them indeed deny God. Those who claim that they deny God are just lying. Whenever they are in trouble, they take refuge in God. When they feel helpless, they seek the help of God."
You know, the entire meaning of atheist is someone who, by definition, doesn't believe in God. Hatipoğlu is making that tired old claim that atheists do not exist, which is more or less equivalent to me declaring that the idea of God is too silly to be really honestly believed by anyone -- ergo there are no real theists. Presto!

Apparently he also said this.
"Any creation or substance is evidence of the existence of God. Personally, I do not think atheists deny God. Even devils do not deny God. The devil admits that God created it [the devil]. It is aware that God is the creator. So, atheists' greatest father is the devil. In short, the devil is more pure than the atheists."
I cannot follow this strange logic, but it seems to imply that atheists believe in and follow Satan. This is forming the basis of the libel suit by Ateizm Derneği against him. A statement from them sums this up.
"With these words and comments, Hatipoğlu is trying to portray atheists as the source of every evil in society by associating us with the devil. Also, his statements label us as children of the devil. All these comments aim to instigate hatred and antagonism, which already exist in society, towards atheists

The statement further claimed that Hatipoğlu has contributed to increased polarization among people through these words and that he aimed to marginalize a certain part of society that holds different philosophical views, aiming to humiliate them in the eyes of the public.
Hatipoğlu has recently offered a nonpology.
However, speaking to Today's Zaman, Hatipoğlu said that his remarks had been distorted, explaining: "We love and respect atheists. My words have been distorted. Some media outlets have not taken into consideration what I really said about them. In short, atheists claim that they do not worship Allah, but they resort to Allah when they are in trouble. It indicates that they indeed believe in Allah. There are many atheists whom I know personally, and they have strong consciences, but they cannot go beyond what they think is true. We never underestimate them."
No, no they don't. I really don't think he gets it.

Incidentally, Dr. Nihat Hatipoğlu is called a television preacher by Hurriyet Daily News. Apparently he's the country's most popular televangelist who's raking in over $300,000 Canadian this past month long celebration of Ramadan.
Top of the list is Islamic scholar Nihat Hatipoğlu, who has clinched a contract worth 600,000 liras with ATV for 30 episodes of his trademark Ramadan program, according to daily Vatan.
I'm guessing this sort of talk might help his ratings out a bit by spicing up the show.

You can find slightly differently rendered English translations at this alternate story.

Ateizm Derneği's Facebook page has nearly 40K likes, so go check it out!

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