Turkish researcher sparks outrage by claiming MS is a ‘punishment from Allah’

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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  • Professor has articles redacted for saying MS is caused by ‘supernatural reasons’
  • MS affects 2.3 million people worldwide but it’s not known why people develop it

A Turkish professor has sparked anger by claiming that MS can be a ‘punishment from Allah’.

Hüseyin Çaksen said in an academic paper that ‘many’ believed the incurable condition, suffered by 2.3million people worldwide, had a ‘supernatural cause’.

In his now-retracted report, Professor Çaksen accepted that his own theory could never be ‘proven scientifically’. 

One critic described the theory as ‘simply vulgar’ and ‘trash’ in a social media post viewed millions of times. 

Researcher Hüseyin Çaksen, of state-run Necmettin Erbakan University, in Turkey, wrote the article ‘The importance of Religion, spirituality, and spiritual care in patients with Multiple Sclerosis’

Attention over Professor Çaksen’s paper sparked interest in his other work, leading observers to find one titled ‘Hijab protects adolescent girls and women from sexual harrassment’.

Seven of his academic publications have now been retracted by journal publishers, including the MS and hijab ones. Another was titled ‘The Role of Religious Coping in Neonatal Intensive Care Unit’.

Notices attached to all of the papers say they have been retracted because they’re ‘lacking scientific base’.

The Retraction Watch blog reported the move came a day after Professor Çaksen’s MS paper triggered outrage online.

Academic Urartu Şeker, based in Turkey’s capital city Ankara, brought the article to public attention on X, formerly known as Twitter. He said, according to the English-language Turkish news site Duvar, it was a ‘trash ideas’.

Necmettin Erbakan University’s Professor Çaksen published his ‘The importance of Religion, spirituality, and spiritual care in patients with Multiple Sclerosis’, paper in May 2023, in the peer-reviewed Journal of Pediatric Neurology.

Academic Urartu Şeker based in Ankara in Turkey brought the article to public attention on X, formerly known as Twitter. He wrote the article written by researcher Hüseyin Çaksen was 'garbage' and 'frightening'

Academic Urartu Şeker based in Ankara in Turkey brought the article to public attention on X, formerly known as Twitter. He wrote the article written by researcher Hüseyin Çaksen was ‘garbage’ and ‘frightening’

He originally wrote: ‘Although it cannot be scientifically proven, we strongly believe that the main cause of the disease in some MS patients is supernatural reasons such as a gift, test, or punishment from Allah.’

The article also suggested medical professionals should be trained in ‘supernatural causes with religious context’.

MS is a lifelong condition in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the body, causing nerve damage to the brain and spinal cord.

Symptoms include difficulty walking, vision problems and numbness or tingling in different parts of the body.

Dr Sarah Rawlings, executive director of research and external affairs at the MS Society, told MailOnline: ‘It’s very unfortunate to see misinformation being spread about the causes of MS.

‘We appreciate the claims made could be very upsetting to people with the condition,’

Despite decades of research, scientists still don’t know what causes MS.

A mix of genetics, environmental and lifestyle factors are the most likely triggers, according to the charity.

WHAT IS MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS?

Multiple sclerosis (known as MS) is a condition in which the immune system attacks the body and causes nerve damage to the brain and spinal cord.

It is an incurable, lifelong condition. Symptoms can be mild in some, and in others more extreme causing severe disability.

MS affects 2.3 million people worldwide – including around one million in the US, and 100,000 in the UK.

It is more than twice as common in women as it is in men. A person is usually diagnosed in their 20s and 30s.

The condition is more commonly diagnosed in people of European ancestry. 

The cause isn’t clear. There may be genes associated with it, but it is not directly hereditary. Smoking and low vitamin D levels are also linked to MS. 

Symptoms include fatigue, difficulty walking, vision problems, bladder problems, numbness or tingling, muscle stiffness and spasms, problems with balance and co-ordination, and problems with thinking, learning and planning.

The majority of sufferers will have episodes of symptoms which go away and come back, while some have ones which get gradually worse over time.

Symptoms can be managed with medication and therapy.

The condition shortens the average life expectancy by around five to 10 years.

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