When European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde appeared at an online summit last week to speak about the coronavirus pandemic, a creationist book on her bookshelf by a jailed Islamic sex cult leader caused a stir in Turkey.
“The Atlas of Creation,” displayed prominently over Lagarde’s right shoulder, uses pictures of fossils and modern-day animals to argue against evolution, saying all life was created by God in a “perfect” form.
It’s by Harun Yahya, more widely known as Adnan Oktar, a Turkish Islamic televangelist and cult leader who was jailed two years ago on charges including sexual abuse of minors, running a criminal network and espionage.The sighting of his book at the home of the euro zone’s top central banker, with previous jobs as head of the International Monetary Fund and French finance minister, baffled many.
So why was it there, let alone displayed during an online broadcast?
It’s probably because Oktar mass-mailed thousands of free copies to politicians, journalists and schools around the world — and because not all world leaders are yet wise to the implications of online seminars that offer a window into their homes.
Lagarde moved to Frankfurt at the end of last year to take up her post, and has spent much of her time dealing with the coronavirus crisis. She has never read the book, according to a person familiar with the matter. An ECB spokesman declined to comment.
After Oktar tried to place his book in educational establishments in some European countries, France’s education ministry ordered its removal from schools, saying it met “none of the quality requirements laid down for classroom teaching.”