RIGHTS > Alevi-Sunni tensions stir grave concern


A group of deputies from the ruling AKP and the main opposition CHP visit the eastern Anatolian province of Malatya following rising Sunni-Alevi tension in the area

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A group of demonstrators gather in Ankara to protest an incident in which the home of an Alevi family (inset) was stoned and their stables burned by an angry mob in Malatya. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

A group of demonstrators gather in Ankara to protest an incident in which the home of an Alevi family (inset) was stoned and their stables burned by an angry mob in Malatya. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

News reports suggesting rising Sunni-Alevi tension in Malatya have led to serious concerns in Ankara as deputies from the ruling and main opposition parties headed to the eastern Anatolian province to speak with Alevi families.

Due to past Sunni-Alevi tension in the area, deputies of both the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) met with members of an Alevi family that was recently attacked by a large group of people in the village of Sürgü. The deputies also held talks with Sürgü Mayor Faruk Taşdemir and Ercan Geçmez, the president of the Hacı Bektaş Veli Anatolian Cultural Foundation.

Number of attackers

CHP Malatya deputy Veli Ağbaba said one-fifth of Sürgü's 5,000 people were Alevi. “We learned that the number of attackers was something between 300 and 500 people on the first night of the events. Attackers were not only local – approximately 50 people came from neighboring villages,” Ağbaba said, adding that the family had stayed in their home even though they had been terrorized.
Geçmez said he feared that such attacks could be repeated and could lead to an Alevi massacre akin to the one in the southern province of Kahramanmaraş in 1978.

The home of the Evli family was stoned and their stables were burned down by an angry mob on July 29 after the family allegedly told a Ramadan drummer not to wake them for sahur, the meal before sunrise during the month of fasting, since they were not observing Ramadan and had work early in the morning. The two sides quarreled after the drummer rejected the family’s request. News of the incident was heard throughout the village and a mob of around 60 people gathered in front of the family’s house, hurling stones at the home and shouting that they were "Kurds and Alevis.” Security forces were able to disperse the crowd after reinforcements arrived.

A family member who spoke to the Hürriyet Daily News on condition of anonymity said they lived in a mixed neighborhood with an Alevi-Sunni population and added that some Sunni friends were alarmed about an upcoming attack and had consequently informed the gendarmerie in the region as a precaution.

“He [the gendarmerie commander] visited us after the attack and proposed that we move to another region temporarily. If we leave, how can we return in the future? We have lived in Sürgü 15 years, more than five years at this address. We do not want to leave our home. If the state cannot provide for our security here, how will it be able to do so in another region?” he said.

Taşdemir, however, has accused the family of provocation, a family member said, adding that he had also urged them to leave the area.


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Notice on comments

american american

8/2/2012 9:41:54 AM

the yanks could, but we'll save that debate for another day. no one is asking the akp to micro-manage, rather to macro-manage. they are the divisive ones. however it is nice to know your unfettered support for the turkish government ozzie, one that i am sure covers all political parties and will continue when akp is voted out.

OZman Cometh

7/31/2012 10:56:45 PM

And the Yanks can stop starting wars and slaughtering populations wasting billions and look after their own people. Everywhere people talk of too much Govt, here the AKP must micro manage the entire population ?? Try running a country with so many competing interests.

Blue Dotterel

7/31/2012 9:04:24 PM

OZman, the AKP is responsible for siding with Suadi and Qatari fundamentalist Sunni fanatics that hope to overthrow the secular Alewite regime in Syria by arming and supporting a largely foreign fanatical Sunni terrorist group linked to Al Qaeda. The FSA has been systematically murdering Alewites and Christians in Syria, as well as moderate Sunni supporters of Assad. Without doubt this has made an impression on the Sunni religious fanatics in Turkey, who see in the AKP as one of their own.

american american

7/31/2012 3:43:18 PM

ozman, the akp could use it`s influence to promote interfaith dialogue and stop the belittlement of the alevis to a far greater degree, but they would rather fund massive and unneeded projects for their base.

OZman Cometh

7/31/2012 2:18:32 PM

You commenters are all blinded by your hate for the AKP. How can they be responsible for every random act of violence in a remote corner of the country. As long as the local police do their job..all well. @runnerup or 2nd place is no place, are you running an anti Turkish Olympic campaign? Olympics are a piece of cake..which city hasn't enforced traffic restrictions and made the locals unhappy?

runner runnerup

7/31/2012 12:11:30 PM

When this governemt is not able to protect its own citizens, how will it protect the participants and visitors of the Olympics in 2020. Participants and visitors from all walks of life; German Kurds, Armenians from Armenia, Greeks from Greece, İsraelites from Israel, Alevi´s from Azerbedyan.

american american

7/31/2012 11:26:48 AM

what can you expect when so many commentators on here say 'i am in the majority. that means i am right!'

Faruk Beisser

7/31/2012 10:36:38 AM

All this trhanks to Gülen's AKP members there! That's the democracy the Great Leader wants!
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