After months of rumors and speculation, famed Turkish sex cult-leader Adnan Oktar was arrested this morning when the financial crimes section of the Turkish police raided Oktar’s compound in Cengelköy on the Asian side of Istanbul.
The charges against him are staggering, ranging from financial crimes to kidnapping, sex with a minor, forming a criminal gang and several charges of sexual abuse.
Given his fame, influence and daily TV show, Adnan Oktar’s lifestyle and dealings with questionable elements of society has been no secret to authorities, so the question is why the arrest comes now, days after President Erdogan’s inauguration, and not many years ago?
It has long been a curious discrepancy that a man like Oktar, who has built a theology around sex and nudity, could gain such freedom and success in a country run by an unabashed Islamist.
While Erdogan has moved Turkey from the Western to the Eastern, Oktar has built an island of his own, seemingly under the protection of the President. This relationship has, by all accounts, soured, and according to sources close to the President he has been advised to cut ties to Oktar completely as to not lose face and influence with his Muslim allies.
It is well established that Erdogan has moved closer to the Muslim Brotherhood and allowed their values and ideology to heavily influence his policies and plans for Turkey and this gradual shift has made Oktar personana non grata in the Erdogan administration.
It’s a far cry from what was: Oktar has been trusted to send delegations to Israel to improve Israeli-Turkish relations, and he has been profiled in several major international publications over the years, as an influential creationist voice and Muslim thought-leader in Turkey.
Oktar has also done plenty of writing of his own, with 73 books under his belt as well as several recurring op-eds in outlets such as Jerusalem Post, Israel Hayom and Al Jazeera. His teachings, mixed with erotic dancing and conspiracy theories about Freemasons, has influenced public policy and civil society in Turkey for several years.
I met Adnan Oktar a month ago, when I was a guest on his TV show, infamous for mixing Islamic teachings with sensuous dancing by his female followers, known as “kittens.” He was an intense man who spent most of our interview speaking of the “imminent” arrival of the Messiah and the strong relationship between Jews and Muslims.
The conversation took place in a set in the now-raided compound, complete with gold chairs, soft music and colourful hanging vines on the ceiling. I was hoping to get an understanding of who Oktar is and why he initiated this quite aggressive rapprochement with the Jewish people and Israel, but his answer to most of my questions was that the Messiah was coming and that we would all see the truth, so I left being none the wiser.
What I did get, however was a sense of an empire in decline, as Oktar mentioned his “close relationship” to Erdogan over and over, giving me a feeling that the affection was less than mutual. Being under Erdogan’s protection is a golden ticket in Turkey, and being on his bad side is a ticket to hell, so it makes sense that Oktar was attempting to mend fences; but as this morning’s events showed, there was no progress to be had.
Adnan Oktar’s fate is surely sealed, and his large and devoted following will have to scatter, left to its own devices.
Even though the story of Oktar is fascinating, bordering on the absurd, the more interesting aspect of this is what it says about President Erdogan’s next term in office.
As Turkey turns fully Islamic, there is no longer a place for the likes of Adnan Oktar, and while he surely should be punished for his alleged crimes, the decision to imprison him should not be interpreted as a cleanup, but rather a clean out, in preparation of things to come.