So we’re in Istanbul, Turkey’s biggest city and also home to Adnan Oktar the world’s most famous, if not only, Muslim creationist. His group of followers is called the kittens. Their religious group has their own TVchannel and show, where they talk about everything from religion, politics, to Kim Kardashian I’ve actually been invited on to their show. I’m going to head over to their studio to find out more about Adnan Oktar and his group of kittens But before the show, I wanted to learn more about their group which has dozens of websites that advertise their message. These are all videos of Mr. Oktar giving speeches to his followers and this first video is called ‘Excerpts from Conversations.’ “To men who meddle in women’s affairs, would you like women to meddle in your affairs?” “Our religion has given women an authority, a maternal authority. I used to kiss the bottom of my mother’s feet and say here I find the smell of paradise.” That is… really intense So then he goes on to say, “Now that in a sense women are more and more superior they are superior in compassion, mercy, cleaning, punctuality meticulousness and thinking about details.” It seems like his views kind of oscillate between two different things. On one hand, he’s like ‘kiss the bottom of your mother’s feet’ but then on the other hand, he’s saying the superiority of women is actually in meticulousness and cleaning. Adnan Oktar came on the scene in the late 70’s when he began a religious group based on a grab bag of creationism the evils of Darwinism, and Islam. Soon after his fans, many of whom were from Istanbul’s wealthiest families, started to follow him and Oktar’s congregation went from being a religious group to something that resembles a cult. His kittens who bare a striking resemblance to each other, with their plastic look and fondness for bleached blonde hair, look closer to LA reality stars than religious devotees. A lot of people think Muslim women only wear head to toe veil but in Turkey, a majority Muslim country, there is a wide range of fashion With the Kittens, who sit at one extreme, I wanted to see what Turkish people thought of Oktar and the Kittens Do you know Adnan Oktar? Alev Erkilet, a prominent Muslim feminist doesn’t think that looks have as much to do with Islam as people say, especially for women. Armed with some background knowledge on Oktar and a dash of Muslim feminism, I was ready to meet the Kittens. Were they simply sexual objects? Or something more? We’re on our way to Adnan Oktar’s studios, called A9 studios Instead of driving straight there, we’re meeting one of their followers and he’s going to guide us directly to his place. I’m not quite sure why. They’re being kind of cagey about it. It might be because they don’t want us to know the exact location of their studio. I know that it’s a big compound and that’s where Adnan Oktar lives with a lot of his Kittens. Hello, hi Hi, nice to meet you Okay Well that was ominous. He smelled nice, it still smells like him in the car So this looks like a proper estate. Our cameras can film here? No? Okay? Right away our cameras were clearly making them uncomfortable Hello, hi I spoke to Sara and she said if we’re not in the studio we could film Sure Okay After a long back and forth, the only place I could speak openly was the bathroom on a phone camera. Hello.
Hi. This is Mr.Oktar’s studio house. Great. Oh my gosh, this is like MTV Cribs ♪♪♪ I got so caught up in the luxury that I almost forgot that this is the home of Islamic creationism. Oh, this is gorgeous! So what’s this stuff? Well here you see some paleontological evidence to show that the species did not evolve to each other that they appeared all of a sudden. These are real fossils, as you see over here This seahorse is 5 million years old here. You see the picture of the seahorse and you see they are no different. There is no difference; means no evolution. We’re waiting on them to finish Ramadan prayer and then they’re going to come mind us during dinner to. Then at 11 o’clock, I’m gonna go on his show. I’m not sure what they’re hiding because when the cameras are off everything seems pretty benign. There’s only one Kitten who we’ve seen. The rest have been corralled away until we see the show. It feels a bit like I’m in North Korea because everybody’s smiling and everybody’s into showing me how luxe the life is But they are not letting us film anything at all with our own cameras Like I said before. Oh, they’re coming. Turn off the camera. Turn it off. In preparation for the show, I was plastered with makeup. But even that we weren’t allowed to film. Ta-da! I never wear makeup so it’s new to me Okay, thank you. Hello. Hahaha, hello. Hi, again. Welcome! But when I did finally get on set there only dudes, no Kittens to be seen. (theme music playing) Okay, so I came here because I’m making a TV program about women in Islam I’ve noticed that we said in Turkey when we come here it’s very distinct because there are people who are covered and there are people who are not Does he believe that women should be covered? So this means like a bikini for instance, they can wear? There are many women that work on the A9 channel are they here tonight? Oh, they’re leaving? So I talked to April a lot about what women in Islam represent and so I wanted to ask some of the women here how they feel about misrepresentations of Muslim women in media and things like this (upbeat music playing) I’m wondering if it’s okay for me to ask one of the ladies if they can tell me their story a little bit, is that okay? Sure? Okay, I don’t know if any one of you that wants to answer But basically I was curious to know about how your life changed once you started following creationism and became part of the A9 team? Actually, everything changed when I met him because Uh, for example when you look at us, all of us, and I’m sure you also realize it from our sight here women are always in front. We are not only equal but we are superiors. So it’s the best place for a women to be in the world
Oh, great! So because, for example, we have all you know, seen the west and how they treat women Yes there’s equality but for example when a women enters a room, in England or America, there is no difference between a table and a woman. Here, for example when a woman walks in a room it’s like and extraordinary being walks in the room And he realizes every single detail and you know women can see a lot of detail and it’s very important for a woman, for example he realizes There is no little thing you change in your character, in your appearance, you did about yourself, and he’s really respectful So we are being treated very respectfully and it’s the only place in the world that I can see that this is being done in the world right now Is there a connection between the way that women are treated here and the creationism part of it? Of course, because you know he believes that God created women like this and he emphasizes love, and he emphasizes that every single human being has a soul, this is why we are trying to make peace in the world not only against women but also with men too because, for a lot of people in the west, one person dying in the Middle East is nothing because they think that they are superior according to race, racial identity and this also comes from Darwinism because Darwinism tells people that there is something called race But in creationism every single person who is created is equal Yeah. That’s why, of course, this is the most important part of it. Okay. Ah, how so? Darwin himself says it This position of being all superior and always in front is this something new that you got to experience once you started– It’s new for everyone in the world, there is nowhere in the world that does this The top that you can get in the world is woman equal to man, right?
Mhm. And especially for example in America we know that many females that are CEOs earn much less than man Because they think that they don’t deserve it, basically. that women are not superior, women are not equal. For me, uh, before I met Mr.Oktar I didn’t know religion. I didn’t know that I could live religion and be free at the same time But after I met him, I read his books, and it opens my heart to the truth. What’s the best book that I should read if I’m trying to understand everything that you’ve written. Everything.We cannot say one book because he has more than 3 hundred books. But you have to read ‘Authors of Creation’ and ‘Be Good Through The Dark Danger’ Okay, great. Yeah I would love to see those. ♪♪♪ Both: You are beautiful, beautiful This is such a good gift, I really appreciate it That was the weirdest thing I have ever gone through in my life. It feels as if someone rubbed crayon all over my face. I’m unsure as to how these women do this every single day. The makeup process was hidden from us. Their PR handler lady really didn’t want anyone filming me getting my makeup done On one hand it’s like they’re trying to make these women look like real TV presenters but then on the other hand in the middle while somebody’s having a conversation about women and politics and Islam their leader starts playing Sia and like weird top 40 remixes and everyone has to start dancing in our chairs. The most illuminating part of it was when I asked the women in the audience, who by the way, weren’t speaking until I directly asked if I could speak to them, how this changed their lives. And they all basically told me that they learned that they could be free even while being religious. Are they having better lives than they did before? What were their lives before? No one even wanted to talk about it. And at the end of it, I received like this ginormous, 15 pound book about creationism. That’s full of obviously fake fossils. I mean I thought that once I would meet them I would understand a little bit more, but I’m even more confused about everything once I’ve left. When I came I thought this was going to be a fun time that this would be something that was light and bubbly and we would have a fun hangout session by the pool with these ladies, and by the time we show up it turns into this dark, kind of scary, uneasy situation where it’s as if you walked into a reality show that’s actually a prison. And instead of having any sort of resolve we’re left kind of empty handed with their bizarre footage. To the outside world their lives seem like a joke. They seem like something that’s an embarrassment or there for spectacle. But in reality, these are real people and their lives seem to amount to some kind of spectacle for one man. And that’s there cult leader, Adnan Oktar. ♪♪♪