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Tens of thousands of Turks demand equal rights for Alevis
1.       tunci
7149 posts
 06 Mar 2011 Sun 06:46 pm

Tens of thousands of Turks demand equal rights for Alevis

Addressing thousands in İzmir on March 6, 2011, Ali Balkız claims Turkey is moving toward a dictatorship. DHA photo

 

Thousands of citizens demonstrated Sunday in the Aegean city of İzmir, demanding equal rights for Alevis.

The protest at the Gündoğdu Square, which comes after similar rallies in previous years in Ankara and Istanbul, attracted nearly 60,000 people, news agencies reported.

Speaking at the rally, Ali Balkız, head of the Pir Sultan Abdal Cultural Association, an Alevi organization, said Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wanted democracy and freedom “only for himself.”

“[Turkey is] moving toward a one-man rule flavored by religious sauce,” Balkız said. “[Erdoğan] played with the judiciary after the referendum and in the aftermath of the [June 12] general elections, he will move toward a presidential regime. I’m afraid an [Adolf] Hitler, or [Benito] Mussolini is coming. We have to prevent this.”

Selahattin Özel, the chief of the Alevi Culture Associations, meanwhile, criticized the government’s “Alevi initiative.”

“Alevism was defined by non-Alevis until today,” he said. “If they wish to learn what it is, our doors are open.”

Chanting slogans and carrying banners, the protesters demanded that the Directorate of Religious Affairs and mandatory religion lessons be abolished while also calling for cemevis, the places of worship for Alevis, to be granted legal status.They also said authorities should stop their practice of building mosques in Alevi villages.

NOTE:

The Alevi (in English /ælɛ´viː/, also /æ´lɛviː/ or /ə´leɪviː/) are a religious, sub-ethnic and cultural community, primarily in Turkey, numbering in the tens of millions. Alevis are classified as a branch of Shia Islam, however there are significant differences in Alevi beliefs, traditions and rituals when compared to other orthodox sects. Alevi worship takes place in assembly houses (cemevi) rather than mosques. The ceremony (âyîn-i cem, or simply cem), features music and dance (semah) where both women and men participate. Instead of Arabic, the respective native language is predominant during rituals and praying.

Key Alevi characteristics include:

  • Humanism
  • Love and respect for all people (“The important thing is not religion, but being a human being&rdquo
  • Tolerance towards other religions and ethnic groups (“If you hurt another person, the ritual prayers you have done are counted as worthless&rdquo
  • 
  • Respect for working people ("The greatest act of worship is to work&rdquo
  • Equality of men and women, who pray side by side. Monogamy is practiced.

Alevism is closely related to the Bektashi Sufi lineage, in the sense that both venerate Hajji Bektash Wali (Turkish: Hacibektaş Veli), a saint of the 13th century. Many Alevis refer to an "Alevi-Bektashi" tradition, but this identity is not universally adopted, nor is the combined name used by non-Turkish Bektashis (e.g., in the Balkans). In addition to its religious aspect, Alevism is also closely associated with Anatolian folk culture. Modern Alevi theology has been profoundly influenced by humanism, universalism and the ancient Turkic belief, tengriism.

The 1990s brought a new emphasis on Alevism as a cultural identity. Alevi communities today generally support secularism in the form of the Kemalist model.


 

2.       Elisabeth
5732 posts
 07 Mar 2011 Mon 03:23 am

Thanks for the post, tunci.  Its not a segment of the population that you hear too much about.  

3.       tunci
7149 posts
 07 Mar 2011 Mon 03:55 am

 

Quoting Elisabeth

Thanks for the post, tunci.  Its not a segment of the population that you hear too much about.  

 

 Yes, you are right Elisabeth. We are not hearing much about Alevis on the media and as a result of that Alevis feel offended,neglected and angry.



Edited (3/7/2011) by tunci

4.       vineyards
1954 posts
 07 Mar 2011 Mon 04:10 am

The Alevi sect of Islam can be considered as a Turkified Islamic faith. Once upon a time, before Yavuz Sultan Selim, the majority of the people in Anatolia were Alevis. The sultan famously massacred the followers of Pir Sultan Abdal sawing the seeds of hatred between the government and the Alevis. 

Alevis are the followers of Ali - a friend of the prophet´s who was assasinated in a mosque while praying. The followers of Ali, refused to go to mosque and opted for a new kind of temple called Cemevi meaning "gathering house". Their rituals are very different from those of the Sunnite majority. They are very proud about being more open minded than the Sunnites.

Sunnis meanwhile, consider Alevism as a form of deviation. They think Alevis violate some of the most essential rules of the religion therefore committing blasphemy. Some bigots among Sunnis made up stories claiming the Alevis perform some sort of a group sex called, "mum söndü" or the "candle is off". These stories are the products of a mentality that can´t tolerate any civil interaction between men and women. Alevis are often abhorred by the Sunnis and vice versa.

One of the problems the Alevis have is the lack of government support for the administration of their religious affairs. Although, all Turks muslim or not must contribute to the expenses of the mosques through funds raised from tax  money, Alevis are not allocated any funds. The Religious Affairs Authority in Turkey represents and serves the Sunnite muslims exclusively.

The Sunni Sect, capitalizes on the Hadiths of the prophet himself. They aim at living the way Mohammad lived. Though all his hadiths were recorded years after his death.

Alevis are known for their rich musical tradition. They are responsible for an essential part of the Anatolian folklore. Their semahs, and baglama playing techniques are very interesting.  They have "dedes" or grand fathers in their communities who acts like a sort of ombudsman. The famous Janissaries were also Alevis and they were loyal to the Bektashi tradition.

 



Edited (3/7/2011) by vineyards

5.       Aida krishan
92 posts
 07 Mar 2011 Mon 11:25 am



Edited (5/4/2012) by Aida krishan

tunci liked this message
6.       Nergisbebek
2 posts
 07 Mar 2011 Mon 04:25 pm

What is happening to Turkey.  They want democracy, they claim democracy, yet they ignore people because of their beliefs.  I love Turkey but at the same time they scare me, sometimes worst than USA.

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