Alevis skeptical of Turkish government's plans

Alevis skeptical of Turkish government's plans

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Alevis skeptical of Turkish governments plans

Alevi Federation’s vice-president Rıza Eroğlu said the community did not consider the Justice and Development (AKP) government workshops sincere. DAILY NEWS photo, Hasan ALTINIŞIK

The Alevi community remains distant from the new process initiated by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan toward the population, as they question the sincerity of the government.

A new dimension to the Alevi initiative was launched by the government in late June that planned to solve the problems, which were put forth at the Alevi workshops, by discussing the issues with Alevi opinion leaders.

Rıza Eroğlu, vice-president of the Alevi Federation and co-chairman of the 700-year-old Erikli Baba Dergahı (dervish convent), told the Hürriyet Daily News that Alevis did not have confidence in the government’s initiative.

“We do not think the workshops are sincere. The ones in power are keeping the public busy, while on the other hand they are neglecting Alevis,” said Eroğlu.

The vice-president said if the government had been sincere in its initiative, it would not have invited Ökkeş Şendiller, “one of the planners of the Sivas massacre” to the Alevi workshops.

On July 2, 1993, a group of radical Islamists gathered around the Madımak Hotel in the central Anatolian city of Sivas and set the building on fire after a siege lasting several hours. The fire killed 33 Alevi intellectuals and two hotel personnel.

Unjust treatment

Eren Yıldırım, a 25-year-old Alevi spiritual, said Alevi students were experiencing unjust treatments at schools due to the textbooks and elective religion lessons. “We sent our Alevi opinion leaders to the workshops. We made proposals specifically on schoolbooks but our proposals have not been taken into consideration,” Yıldırım said.

Stating that they had appealed to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on the status of the Cemevi, the Alevis’ place of worship, Eroğlu said Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was playing to the ECHR with the Alevi workshops to improve Turkey’s negative image before the court.