Alevis demand charter be harsh on hate crimes
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
A rally was taged on March 3 in the southeastern province of Adıyaman to protest the marking of Alevi homes. Doors of Alevi residences were marked last week in Karapınar neighborhood, causing fear that members of the community were about to be attacked.Alevi representatives demanded constitutional protection against hate crimes in a meeting with the Parliament commission tasked with drafting a new constitution, drawing attention to the recent marking of Alevi homes in Adıyaman, which has raised concerns about possible attacks.
Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin described the door-marking incident as “child’s play,” but representatives of the Federation of Alevi-Bektaşi Associations told Parliament’s Constitution Conciliation Commission yesterday that “penalties for hate crimes stemming from factors such as religion, language or race need to be increased.”
They asked that the Alevi identity be recognized in the new constitution and also put forward suggestions such as the abolition of the Religious Affairs Directorate and regulations against military coups.
“The new charter must be people-centered, as well as multi-cultural, multi-identity and multi-faith,” said Federation Chairman Selahattin Özel.
The federation emphasized the importance of fundamental concepts such as respect for different languages, religions, ethnic identities, beliefs, sexes, marital statuses and gender identities and suggested that discrimination be legally banned in order to protect everyone on equal terms.
Minority faiths and religions especially needed official recognition and equal rights regardless of the number of their followers, the federation said, suggesting the new constitution abolish mandatory religion classes in public schools and ensure the right to education in native languages.
The concept of “constitutional citizenship” should also be introduced, according to the Alevi representatives. The current definition of “minority” should be removed and replaced with “equal citizens.”
The group would also like to see cemevis gain recognition as Alevi houses of worship and the removal of dervish convents from the museum category and their return to their owners, together with properties belonging to the Armenian, Greek, Jewish and Syriac communities.
The parliamentary commission met earlier this month with the religious leaders of Turkey’s Orthodox, Jewish, Armenian and Syriac minorities to hear their demands concerning the new constitution.