Ayça Pars, who was in the close circles of notorious cult leader Adnan Oktar for 30 years, spoke about her life in the group. The group faces a long list of charges from sexual abuse to espionage. Pars, who was released after she collaborated with police to implicate Oktar's cult, spoke to Anadolu Agency (AA) about how Oktar, a shady figure, brainwashed her and other women.
Adnan Oktar and dozens of his followers were detained in Istanbul in July as part of an investigation into what investigators called his criminal organization. Pars were among them but invoked a law that allows release for the arrested in exchange of supplying information on criminal acts.
"I was finally free when I was jailed, after 30 years," she said. "I was free of mind because I was held captive for all those years. Me and others had to do what we are told and were dictated to on how we should think," she says.
She first met Oktar and his group when she was 17 years old, at a time when 62-year-old Oktar was seeking followers for his own warped brand of religion. "I was not a religious person then and wanted to know more about religion," she says.
The cult, that convinced young women and men from wealthy families to join, substantially grew over the years and Pars says it started to "adopt a hierarchy in the 1990s," evolving from a group of companions of Oktar to a shady cult. Pars says some people wanted out, but Oktar exerted tight control on them and resorted to defamation against them and turned to blackmail for people with past criminal records.
She said that the cult was particularly strict on the movement of female followers who spent their days in Oktar's mansions in Istanbul. "We were not allowed to go out alone and had to go everywhere with ‘a witness,'" another member of the group tasked with monitoring fellow members.
Pars accused Oktar of violence against women. "He beat them, berated them and would order them to crawl on the ground if they disobeyed his orders. He would cut their hair as punishment and sometimes, would pull their hair himself. He used to dump meals in plates if he wanted to punish a woman while he was at lunch or dinner," she recounted.