Monday, November 09, 2009

Religious dispute in Turkey

The Alevis are the largest religious minority in Turkey, it is hoped that they might help win freedoms for all religious minorities here.

Religious dispute in Turkey | News from Armenia -
Last week token visit of Turkish President Abdullah Gul to Tunceli (province in the Eastern Anatolia region, Turkey) worship house did not produce a strong effect, as thousands gathered in Kadikoy district of Istanbul calling the Government to respect their rights, Turkish Hurriyet informs.

Thousands of Alevis took to Istanbul streets on Nov. 8 demanding to “abolish the Religious Affairs Directorate, eliminate compulsory religious-education classes, recognize cemevis as legitimate houses of worship, and transform the Madimak Hotel in Sivas, where 33 Alevis were killed by a fundamentalist mob, into a museum,” website reads.

Gul’s visit was labeled “insincere” by Alevis, considered a liberal sect of Shia Islam. “Many presidents have visited cemevis, but what difference does it make when they are not recognized as legal houses of worship?” Hurriyet quotes Ali Balkiz, Chairman of the Alevi-Bektashi Federation, as saying at the rally.

“We cannot make our voice heard through the media and columnists. It is only through these mass movements that awareness can be raised among the public and the Alevi voice can be heard. A year after our last rally, nothing has changed. We will continue to rally until our demands are met. What some call the ‘Alevi issue’ we call a ‘political disgrace,” Balkiz said.

The Alevi is a religious, cultural community in Turkey numbering over tens of million people. Alevism is considered one of Shia Islam branches and their rituals are conducted basically in Turkish, and some in Kurdish.

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