Alevi leader in Turkey fined for Hitler comment

Alevi leader in Turkey fined for Hitler comment

ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
Alevi leader in Turkey fined for Hitler comment

Ökkeş Şendiller. Hürriyet Photo

The leader of an Alevi association has been fined more than 3,500 Turkish Liras for likening Ökkeş Şendiller – a nationalist who was cleared after standing trial for the Maraş massacre in 1978, which claimed the lives of 150 Alevis – to Hitler.

Criticizing the fact that Şendiller was invited to a government initiative to listen to the problems of Alevis in Turkey, Ali Kenanoğlu, the head of the Istanbul-based Hubyar Sultan Alevi Culture Association said, “It is like inviting Hitler to a Jewish meeting.”

In its decision, the court stated that comparing Şendiller to Hitler and considering him a criminal despite the fact that he was acquitted from a case years ago was a violation of his personal rights. The court fined Kenanoğlu a total of 3,500 liras for his remarks in two different newspapers.

Kenanoğlu told the Hürriyet Daily News that the image of Şendiller in the minds of Alevis was still problematic, and that despite the fact that he had been acquitted the government’s decision to invite him to the Alevi initiative was wrong. “This was disrespectful to Alevis. If there is any insult, it is not done by me, it is done by those who invited [Şendiller] to this meeting,” he said.

The court’s decision came at the end of 2012, but it has only recently been delivered to Kenanoğlu. He said he had paid 6,000 liras in total, with the interest and other costs of the case.

Many Alevi groups expressed their dismay in 2009 after learning that Şendiller had been invited to one of the gatherings in the government’s Alevi initiative, designed to give the Alevi community a forum to air its demands and find a collective solution to the group’s problems.

Şendiller was put on trial for being the involved in the Maraş Massacre, in which Alevis were killed in the province of Kahramanmaraş by Sunni Muslims and extreme nationalists known as the “Bozkurtlar” (Grey Wolves) on Dec. 21, 1978. He was found innocent by the court.