Main opposition criticizes postponement of Alevi saint’s commemoration due to state of emergency
The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has excoriated the government for postponing ceremonies to commemorate an Alevi saint in the southeastern province of Adıyaman.
Every year on May 28, thousands of local devotees visit the shrine of Alevi Saint Apaziz in Adıyaman’s Yedioluk village where they perform the semah, sing ballads and eat the traditional Turkish fried sweet dough “lokma.” This year, however, the government has postponed the events citing the current state of emergency (OHAL).
“Not permitting the commemoration events, in which no negative incident has taken place until now, is an external reflection of an [improper] mentality,” CHP Vice Chair Veli Ağbaba said.
“This year, heaven knows why, by citing the state of emergency as a reason, commemoration events are not being permitted to take place. We are wondering how commemorating an Alevi religious leader, the distribution of ‘lokma’ and the semah present a security danger. We are wondering how that is related to the state of emergency. Let someone explain,” the CHP lawmaker said.
Municipalities to employ security personnel for protection of Alevi institutions
Meanwhile, municipalities in Ankara will take extra precautions by employing security personnel who are responsible for the protection of Alevi institutions after a sketch belonging to an Alevi foundation was found in the house of two Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants who were killed in a police operation on May 21, daily Cumhuriyet reported on May 28.
The decision was reportedly taken after Ankara Gov. Ercan Topaca met with various representatives of Alevi institutions last week to discuss the news that the sketch of the Hacı Bektaş Veli Anatolia Cultural Foundation was found in the hands of the killed ISIL militants.
During the meeting, the governor’s office reportedly first proposed that police officers stand guard at Alevi institutions, especially in cemevis, the community’s houses of worship, located in the capital, but the proposal was declined by the foundations.
The governor’s office then proposed that Alevi institutions employ their own security personnel for additional protection, but Alevi leaders also declined the recommendation due to a lack of financial means.
Topaca then suggested that Ankara municipalities undertake the employment of the security personnel, who would be given weapons, in line with permission to be provided by the governor’s office, the newspaper said.
The Alevi institutions accepted Topaca’s proposal on the condition that the names of the security personnel to be hired would be determined by the Alevi groups rather than the municipalities.
Accordingly, the Ankara Governor’s Office will contact the municipalities of Çankaya, Mamak, Yenimahalle and Keçiören, which have high Alevi populations, to increase security measures.