Alevis ‘work’ undercover at religious body

Alevis ‘work’ undercover at religious body

Tarık Işık ANKARA / Radikal
Alevis ‘work’ undercover at religious body

AA photo

Many Alevi officials employed by the Religious Affairs Directorate are hiding their religious identity for fear of losing their jobs, a retired directorate official has said.

“Numerous Alevis works as muftis, preachers or imams for the directorate, but none of them reveal their Alevi identity. They are afraid of losing their jobs. There are no Alevi presidents, vice presidents or department heads in the directorate,” Abdülkadir Sezgin said, in a report published in daily Radikal Aug. 21. Sezgin is currently the head of the Religious Audit Employees and Specialists Association, and served for 38 years in the Directorate of Religious Affairs.

Sezgin, who is not himself an Alevi, also said Alevi imams fear losing their congregations. 

“For example among some graduates of theological high schools [Imam Hatip liseleri] in [the Black Sea province of] Amasya, none were appointed to posts in Amasya because their villages and origins would be openly known,” he said.

Sezgin said he was once asked by officials the reason for attending prayers at the appointed prayer times. “They thought I was an Alevi because I was talking about Alevism, and they thought I should not be attending the prayers in the mosque.”

There are people in the directorate who do not practice their prayers, Sezgin said. “An official was fired for drinking alcohol in the directorate building,” he said. 

Sezgin also criticized the directorate and the curriculum in religious high schools for not teaching Bektaşism and Alevism properly. “The great majority of the curriculum does not reflect the truth about Alevism,” he said. This is why the bias against Alevis in Turkey is growing, Sezgin said, adding that the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) and some former governments of Turkey have pushed the directorate to take steps in favor of Alevis.