Thousands of Alevis from both Germany and Turkey are gathering for a massive protest in Cologne over a German TV program which they claim was insulting to members of their religion. The Alevi denomination is a distinct and liberal movement in Islam and its members are manly found in Turkey and Syria as well in parts of Europe. Germany is believed to have about 700,000 members. The Alevis have been the target of Islamic fundamentalists and 37 of Turkey’s Sunni and high profile Alevi artists and intellectuals were killed in a fire set by Islamists in 1993 in Turkey.
The episode in the German crime series, “Tatort” dealt with murder and incest in an Alevi family in Germany. In the program, Alevis are depicted as being quite different from Alevis. During the Ottoman Empire, the Alevis were frequently accused of incest because they included women and children in their religious rituals. In the offending episode, a girl is murdered by her father after confronting him about impregnating her sister. The sister then goes to live with a Sunni family and becomes a devout Muslim.
Ali Tobprak of the European Federation of Alevi Unions, said he tried discussing the episode prior to its being aired and insisted Alevis respected freedom of the press and speech, but warned its showing would spark hatred against his group. The dirctor of the episode admitted she didn’t know much about the Alevis or their history of being persecuted or accusations against them about incest. The episode was aired.
There are times when historical factors should enter into a television program’s decision to depict people. For example, to show in Germany an episode in which Jews of the 1930s are depicted in an evil manner is simply in poor taste. This show apparently was in poor taste.