Saturday, March 14, 2009

Witty protest of the Darwin cover censorship by Turkish

In Middle East Technical University (METU), one of the most prestigious universities in Turkey, there is a stadium, and on the concrete seats of this stadium there is a giant print that says: DEVRIM (means “revolution” in Turkish). According to the urban legend, this was written by a group of revolutionist students in 1968 with a formula they developed together with chemistry students, and this was such a formula that, no other paint could cover this white paint. All the attempts of deleting it, painting on it by the officials in the years that followed proved to be useless. Obviously, the chemistry students knew what they were doing. So the word “revolution” stayed on, reflecting the revolutionist spirit of this university for decades*.

Yesterday, protesting the recent censorship of Darwin cover by the Turkish national science council of Turkey (TUBITAK), students and faculty at METU got together on the letter “D”. They called this protest “Censoring the censorship”. Because, when you remove “D” from the word “DEVRIM” you are left with “EVRIM”, which means “EVOLUTION” in Turkish.

The head of the Association of Faculty at METU, Prof. Dr. Melih Ersoy, says, “TUBITAK is the institution that should be promoting and encouraging the scientific research and thinking. It is unacceptable and very worrying to see this institution replacing the Darwin cover of the magazine, especially in 2009, the Year of Darwin.”

Photographs by: İsmail Çiftçi

*Now one of the symbols of METU, the DEVRIM print was repainted in 2008, celebrating its 40th anniversary. Pictures of this event are here.


  1. Year 1968… The tribune of Middle East Technical University (METU) Stadium woke up to a new morning with a word, which was printed on concrete seats from one end to another: “Revolution”.

    Year 2008, a mayor came up with a bewildering idea about tearing down METU campus. This time Students of METU striked him back “if he ever intends, we rewrite ‘Revolution’ on the tribunes once again.” and as a matter of fact they did. The students of METU rewrote “revolution” once again to tribunes of METU Stadium, which has already been named as METU Revolution Stadium, with more prominent letters this time, 40 years after.

    Now and then, the Sculpture called "Science tree", the icon of the campus, continues growing despite of the people who would prefer the other way around. And it is obvious now that the ones, who were talking about demolishing, could not even touch a wall in the campus.

    One more year passes and the date shows 2009 now. The government of Bush which had the world leaned on "Intelligent Design" becomes a history and one of the first actions of the new President Barack Obama is to lift federal bans on embryonic stem cell research. However, our government decides to clone New Bush babies, while they do show superficial support to the new government.

    The censorship in Turkey is expanding in every way of communication including internet, television, radio, magazines, and newspapers. The censorship, which often “touches” the rights of media chose the scientific magazine “Bilim ve Teknik” (Science and Technology) published by TÜBİTAK (The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey- for the funding of research and science management) this time to apply its own rights: Cover of the magazine with the theme of “Darwin’s 200th birthday” and 15-page-news about “evolution theory” were removed instantly before published. Furthermore, production director of the magazine is relieved of duty and a big “change” in the management personnel is initiated.

    It is obvious that the effect of Harun Yahya is showing itself even in TÜBİTAK. Then, where do we remember this name? Absolutely from the websites, which he caused, to be censored in Turkey because of his “opposing thoughts to evolution”and from his own“weird presses, which are distributed all around the world without any payment or permission. While leading press and writers protest these acts on the media, they are shown as an open target by Harun Yahya and the same-minded people and accused of being advocates of inferior generation. Today media and especially science is tried to be reshaped systematically, and unfortunately, the outstanding word "freedom" stands right in front of us naked and weaker than ever.

    We are addressing to all Turkish public, essentially to the universities and to scholarly people:

    We are METU. Every single person in METU knows to say “En’el METU” (I am METU) when needed. As seen in the history, sovereigns always change in time; however, the Science Tree located in METU keeps nourishing the humanity. We want to emphasize our actual protest: Since we are supporting the right for unconstrained expression, we cannot accept either the censorship or the dictated command.

    We are expecting “a cover of apology” from Bilim ve Teknik for which TÜBİTAK is responsible. For those who might have difficulties to find the content of that cover, we are concealing the letter “D”, which is the capital letter of DEVRİM (Revolution) for a while in order to reflect our attitude against expurgation as a thought of “censorship against censorship” and we are exposing the rest of the word “EVRİM” (Evolution) at the gathering in the METU Stadium. We cannot tolerate “made-to-order” covers of scientific magazines and we are stating a single fact, “Here is the made-to-order cover!”

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