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Thursday, 12 March 2009

Turkish science editor fired over evolution feature

A tweet from New Scientist takes us to a blog item from Debbie MacKenzie in Brussels which took us on to the Turkish site Hurriyet. Debbie's item, Turkey's battles with Islamic creationists continue, is about the sacking of the editor of Bilim ve Teknik (Science and Technology), "the excellent popular science magazine".

Evolution is the cause of the ruckus. The Turkish national science council, TÜBİTAK, which publishes the magazine, also pulled a cover feature on Darwin's anniversary and put in its place a feature on global warming.

Lest anyone think that all Turks are backward looking fundamentalists of the George Bush variety, Hurriyet reports disquiet at ministerial level. "State Minister Mehmet Aydın expressed discontent at the removal of the Darwin story." The news service also quotes the minister as saying "This is not TÜBİTAK’s mission."

There are then some juicy bits of mud slinging. They quote an unnamed academic as saying that Professor Ömer Cebeci, the axe wielder and vice president of TÜBİTAK, it seems, "is an ignorant manager and is unaware of the scientific research going on abroad and at home. The political decision makers that brought Cebeci to his post are just as ignorant as Cebeci himself."

It isn't actually clear if the editor in question, Çiğdem Atakuman, really has lost her job. According to Hurriyet "Aydın said the chief editor was not removed from her post, basing his comment on a conversation with a TÜBİTAK official". But as New Scientist said in its tweet, "Let's support her".