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A Turkish Muslim televangelist, who has been arrested multiple times in the past and who has spent time in both prison and a mental hospital over the years, has been sentenced to 8,568 years in prison by a court in Turkey.
Described as a cult leader, Adnan Oktar, 66, was convicted of both sexual assault and abuse of minors, bbc.com reported. He was originally given a jail sentence of 1,075 years, but an appeals court ordered a retrial involving 215 defendants. Ten of them were given more than 8,000 years in prison by the court in Istanbul, and many of the other defendants were given shorter terms.
A highly controversial preacher and leader of what many termed as a "cult," Oktar constantly surrounded himself with young women whom he referred to as his "kittens," the BBC reported. He owned his own television channel, through which he delivered religious sermons.
Haaretz.com reported that former members who escaped Oktar's cult claim that Oktar brainwashes, threatens, blackmails and sexually enslaves members of his "ministry."
In 2018, Oktar and hundreds of his followers were arrested in 2018 on several charges, including running a criminal organization, tax offenses, sexual abuse and violating counter-terrorism laws. At the time, he maintained his innocence, telling journalists that the allegations made against him were "lies" and a "game by the British deep state," bbc.com reported.
In 2021, he was convicted of 10 separate charges, including engaging in political and military espionage, rape, blackmail and causing torment. Oktar was linked to exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen, who the Turkey government accused of masterminding a failed military coup in 2016. The coup killed more than 250 people and injured more than 2,000 others.
A fierce opponent of the theory of evolution, Oktar has written several books including one that was widely mocked titled, "The Atlas of Creation." In the book, Oktar claimed Darwin's theory of evolution "lay at the root of global terrorism."
Haaretz.com also reported that his devotees are sent to "hunt" women, convince them to have sex and document it so they can be blackmailed.
In 2018 during his arrest, more than 50 guns and ammunition were seized in a series of raids.
In the past, Oktar has preached against Jews and freemasons, but debunking Darwin's theory of evolution, media reports claim, became an obsession with him. He created an entire website dedicated to criticizing the BBC, which he said, "generally acts in line with emotions aroused by the fact that Darwin was British."
Oktar's television broadcasts convey Islamic views. But those "sermons" were overshadowed by the presence of scantily-clad belly dancers on the program. BBC.com reported that one head of the communications department of the Turkish government suggested that Oktar "has most likely lost his mental balance."
Does this remind anyone of Jim Jones, leader of the People's Temple in the 1970s, who orchestrated a mass murder-suicide in the remote jungles of Guyana in 1978?
Shawn A. Akers is the online editor for Charisma Media.
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