Tag Archives: Alevi

Prejudice In Turkey Alive And Well

A study of prejudice in Turkey conducted by the Frekans Research Filed and Data Processing Co. revealed deep seated prejudices among Turks regarding other cultural and religious groups. About 54% said the Alevis who belong to more liberal Muslim beliefs were not regarded as deeply attached the Turkish nation. Only 16% thought Greeks were and 15% thought Armenians and Jews had a deep feeling of belonging to Turkey. When asked where these people should be or not be allowed to work, 55% said they should be kept out of the judiciary, police and the military, 57% said out of any national security agency, and half did not wish them to occupy important government positions.

When asked who they would not like as a neighbor, 57% said an atheist family, 42% did not want Jews in the neighborhood and Christians followed at 35%. The figures reveal that Turkey which seeks entry into the European Union has yet to grapple with the prejudices in their own homeland which might lead to trouble if immigrants could freely enter their land as members of EU nations. An interesting figure is that 76% admitted having no knowledge of Jews but they didn’t want them as neighbors. This suggests ignorance is a major factor in prejudice in Turkey.

Turkish Government Apologizes To Alevi

The Alevi are a Muslim group which adheres to liberal ideas in which all faiths are recognized as being good and women are on an equal basis with men. The Alevi has suffered constant discrimination and hate because of their independent views on the nature of the Muslim religion and their refusal to follow fundamentalist approaches to religion. Minister of Culture and Tourism, Ertugrul Gunay, spoke for the current government by making clear hi Justice and Development Party, although a religious centered one, is sorry for the manner in which Alevi have been treated and persecuted for their religious beliefs. ‘I want to apologize for all of the wrongdoings done in the past” and he thanked Alevi for their “unwavering belief and protection of the Turkish nation.”

The apology to the Alevi is an important first step in truly creating the basis of religious freedom in Turkey. It recognizes there are alternative paths to the truth in the Muslim religion. Another such step in working to undo hate of the past would be an apology to the Armenian people.

Turkish Minorities Get Support From Political Party

The past weekend marked several demonstrations in Turkey by members of the Alevi community to protest the ongoing bias and discrimination they face from dominant Muslim groups which refuse to recognize them as a legitimate Islamic force. Historically, the liberal minded Alevi, have sided with leftist political parties, and were surprised when the Nationalist Movement Party(MHP)reached out to Alevis and offered support for their fight for equality. Deviet Bahcli, leader of the MHP, urged an end to separating Turkish people on the basis of ethnicity or religion. “The MHP is sincerely ready to solve the problems of our Alevi brothers through mutual understanding, and to start a new process.”

Ironically, in the past, the MHP has been involved in anti-Alevi demonstrations so its turn around has caused confusion among Alevis, but also interest in discovering a new political ally. It could simply be a political move to gain votes against the governing Justice and Development Party(AKP) which has not met Alevi demands for an end to discrimination and recognition of them as Muslims who have a more liberal approach to life.

Turkish Alevi Community Protests

The Alevi community of Turkey constitutes about 12% of the population but for decades has been subject to discriminatory acts on the part of the government. Alevis are Muslims, but they do not agree with many practices of Sunni or Shiite branches of the religion. Yesterday, thousands demonstrated in Ankara in a “Grand Rally” for freedom. The Alevis want an end to compulsory religious education in schools, they want their brand of the Muslim religion to receive official recognition, they want their houses of worship to be recognized in the same manner as a mosque or church, and they want the abolishment of the Directorate of Religious Affairs. Alevi leaders insist Turkey is a secular nation and therefore having compulsory religion classes which are based on Sunni beliefs is a violation of the Constitution. The Council of State ruled in March that students should not be required to attend religion classes that focus solely on Sunni beliefs, but no action has really been taken to implement this decision.

There is scant chance the current Turkish government will accept the concept that religion has no place in public schools. The dilemma is that Alevi belief is open to the ideas of all religions and has no hostility to those who differ from the Muslim religion. They most probably are too liberal in their views of religion for the present Turkish government.

Turkish Alevi Seek Equal Rights

Turkey’s Alevi community is a religious group which differs from other branches of the Muslim religion. It is more flexible in its approach to the Muslim faith and does not support a religious control of society as do so many fundamentalists. Alevi supporters are planning massive rallies all over Turkey to demonstrate the need for equal rights. They want all examples of prejudice and discrimination against the religion to be voided. Their demands include making state-run religious classes non-compulsory, having their religious houses of worship recognized by the government and full implementation of citizenship. It is part of their believe that all groups and religions should be treated in an equal manner.

Alevi leaders object to efforts by the government to push for assimilation of the Alevi religion within existing Muslim entities. A few efforts by the Justice and Development Party have been made such as aiding a few pages of information about the Alevi religion in textbooks and sometimes turning a blind eye to failure of Alevi students to attend compulsory religious classes.

There is no question the Alevi religion is the most liberal and open within the Muslim religion. It is time for them to be accepted as Muslims.

Turkey First– Religious Center For All Faiths!

An old man’s wish to build a mosque that would be open to any branch of the Muslim religion, even Alevis who are hated by most Muslims, has escalated into a major project which eventually will include religious facilities for those of all faiths. Ihsan Dogramaci, 93, a prominent Turkish businessman, who is founder of Turkey’s first private university, wanted to build a mosque and then decided the complex should include a synagogue for Jews and a church for Christians. He intended to carry out the wishes of his father who wanted a mosque that was open to both Alevis and Sunnis, but he went further than his father’s dream and decided to include a synagogue and a chapel. “All of them can pray at the same place,” he told the Turkish Daily News.

Before this interfaith edifice can become a reality, the Directorate of Religious Affairs must give its consent to this unusual center of religion. Sunni tradition requires entrance to the mosque must have a separate path from any leading to the other religious facilities. However, a major difficulty stems from Alevi beliefs which differ from those of Sunnis and even prayer would be different. Many Muslims do not regard Alevis as being part of their religion and view them as separate from Muslim culture and beliefs.

On hsi r ecent visit to Iraq, Prime Minister Recep Erdogan made clear to Shiite leaders, “I am neither Shiite nor Sunni, I am a Muslim.” Hopefully, he can show the same tolerance toward those who are Alevi.

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan Reaches Out To Alevi

Turkis Prime Minister Gul hosted a dinner for members of the Alevi community in his nation which was probably the first time a Turkish government official had taken such a step. The Alevi are considered a liberal denomination of the Muslim faith and are subject to extreme persecution and discrimination in other Muslim nations. Many Alevi boycotted the dinner because they doubted the sincerity of the prime minister. Erdogan told the audience of Alevis, “we all belong to this country, we are all brothers. We must know and understand one anotheer. We must not give in to those who would sow division.” However, even as he spoke, a Turkish court turned down a request by Alevis that their place of worship, a “cemevi” could be recognized as equivalent to a mosque.

The Alevis have long been fighting to attain equal rights in Muslim nations. The Turkish court decision is unfortunate because it fails to acknowledge the right of Muslims to have their own beliefs and accords to government the right to decide which is or is not an official house of worship. We applaud Prime Minister Erdogan for reaching out to those who are facing discrimination in his nation.