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Muslim TV preacher sentenced to 8,658 years in jail by Turkish court

Adnan Oktar, considered a cult leader by authorities, was convicted of several counts, including sexual abuse and depriving someone of their liberty

Turkish "televangelist" Adnan Oktar on March 31, 2010. (CC-BY-SA-4.0,3.0,2.5,2.0,1.0 Harun Yahya International/Wikipedia)
Turkish "televangelist" Adnan Oktar on March 31, 2010. (CC-BY-SA-4.0,3.0,2.5,2.0,1.0 Harun Yahya International/Wikipedia)

An Istanbul court Wednesday sentenced a Muslim televangelist who surrounded himself with scantily clad women he called “kittens” to 8,658 years in prison in a retrial, local media reported.

Adnan Oktar led television programs surrounded by women wearing lots of makeup and little clothes as he preached creationism and conservative values.

Last year, the 66-year-old was sentenced to 1,075 years for crimes including sexual assault, sexual abuse of minors, fraud and attempted political and military espionage.

But that ruling was overturned by an upper court.

During the retrial, Istanbul high criminal court sentenced Oktar to 8,658 years in prison on several charges including sexual abuse and depriving someone of their liberty, the Anadolu news agency reported.

The court also sentenced 10 other suspects to 8,658 years in prison each, the agency said.

Oktar, whom critics see as the leader of a cult, gained notoriety for his programs on the online A9 television channel and had regularly been denounced by Turkey’s religious leaders.

In a major crackdown on his group, he was taken into custody in Istanbul in 2018 as part of a probe by the city’s police financial crimes unit.

Oktar, also known by his pen name Harun Yahya, has authored numerous books promoting creationism against Darwin’s theory of evolution as well as conspiracy theories.

He has been criticized in the past for publishing books featuring antisemitic conspiracy theories and Holocaust denial, but in recent years has renounced them and held events to combat those phenomena in the Muslim world. He has been embraced by some high-profile Israelis.

In a 1986 book he penned called “Judaism and Freemasonry,” he claimed both groups were making use of their power “to erode the spiritual, religious, and moral values of the Turkish people and make them like animals.”

He was later slammed over a 1996 book titled “The Holocaust Lie” published under his pen name, which claimed that “what is presented as Holocaust is the death of some Jews due to the typhus plague during the war and the famine toward the end of the war caused by the defeat of the Germans.”

Oktar has hosted many Israelis on his TV show, including Temple Mount activist and former MK Yehudah Glick, former minister Ayoub Kara, and several Orthodox rabbis. He has been lauded for pro-Israel views, including affirming the connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem and the Land of Israel.

He has supported the rights of Jews and Christians to pray on the contested Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem, the holiest site in Judaism and third-holiest for Muslims, who refer to it as Al-Haram Al-Sharif.

He has filed more than 5,000 defamation lawsuits against individuals in the last decade, and has caused authorities to block several websites.

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