Alevis march against compulsory religion classes in Istanbul
AFP PhotoA group of Alevi associations partnered with the Eğitim-Sen teachers’ union staged a rally on Feb. 8 in Istanbul’s Kadıköy district against compulsory religion classes and forming the education system according to religious rules.
The Alevi-Bektaşi Federation (ABF), the Alevi Associations Federation (ADF), the Alevi Foundations Federation (AVF) and the Pir Sultan Abdal Cultural Association (PSAKD) attended the rally called “Cooperation and Unity for secular, scientific, mother tongue-based education and democratic life.”
Thousands of people, including members of political parties and unions, marched and carried banners to express their reaction to compulsory religion classes and the imposition of religion.
The banners read “No to imposition of religion, language, sect and identity. Equal and free citizenship!” and “Long live the brotherhood of nations and freedom of religion.”
The state could not define Alevis and that cemevis were Alevis’ houses of worship, the protesters also shouted.
ABF head Fevzi Gümüş said the government’s efforts to reform education and social life within the scope of religion and its policies that ignore different identities and regions were increasing.
“We previously said that compulsory religion classes were an assimilation effort against Alevis. We don’t want privilege, but we will not let others discriminate against us. We are not going to let our children be assimilated openly under the name of religious classes,” Gümüş said.
Eğitim-Sen head Kamuran Karaca accused government officials of taking advantage of religion and downgrading society and education for their own political future.