Alevis ask President Gül to change name of Istanbul’s third bridge at iftar dinner
ISTANBUL – Doğan News Agency
Turkish President Abdullah Gül speaks during a fast-breaking dinner organized by Alevi associations in Istanbul, July 24. AA photoAlevi associations asked President Abdullah Gül to change the name of Istanbul’s third bridge across the Bosphorus Straight during a fast-breaking dinner in Istanbul July 24.
The bridge had been named after the Ottoman ruler Yavuz Sultan Selim bringing controversy as the glorified Sultan known in English as "Selim the Grim," is known for the slaughter of around 40,000 Alevis.
“Our plea to the president is to rename [the third bridge] after Yunus Emre, who embraces both Alevis and Sunnis and signals unity,” said the Alevi opinion leader Derviş Tur, during the opening remarks. Yunus Emre, a Sufi mystic who lived in Central Anatolia in the 13th century and celebrated as a poet, was among the early influences of Alevism.
Tur warned the name foreseen for the bridge under construction could create more conflict in Turkish society. “If we bring into our times the wars and disputes that have been lived throughout history, it won’t be very auspicious for our nation,” he said.
He also asked Gül for official recognition of the Alevi’s houses of prayer, the cemevis, as places of worship.
Alevis are Turkey's 'reality'
Speaking during the iftar dinner, to which many representatives of non-Muslim communities were also invited, President Gül said that all Turkish citizens were an integral part of the country.
“There is a very important reality of Turkey in this picture. The more we understand it, the more our task will become easier,” Abdullah Gül said.
Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, main opposition Republican People’s Party deputy head Faik Öztrak, Istanbul’s Şişli distict Mayor Mustafa Sarıgül and chairmen of business organizations also attended the event.