Alevi leader assaulted in Istanbul

Alevi leader assaulted in Istanbul
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Six days after a simultaneous attack on three Cemevis in Ankara, an Alevi leader in Istanbul was heavily beaten near his house.

A prominent leader of Istanbul’s Alevi community suffered an assault on Friday in the latest of a series of attacks against the largest religious minority in Turkey, Cumhuriyet newspaper reported.

Selami Saritas, Kartal Cemevi President, was about to arrive at his house when two unidentified bikers assaulted him in his car.

“This is obviously a planned attack. Two bikers with helmets approached Saritas under the pretense of asking for an address, and when he half-opened his window the assailants immediately blew punches at him. …They had to run when his son came to the rescue. His head is all bruised and swollen,” said Yunus Altun, a member of Kartal Cemevi, according to Cumhuriyet.

The attack comes six days after five different Alevi institutions, including three cemevis, were attacked simultaneously in the Turkish capital Ankara.

Police in Ankara detained one suspect the same day and on August 1 the Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said more people connected were arrested calling the assault a “planned provocation.”

Cemevis are the places of worship for the alevis but Turkey’s government does not recognise them as such, depriving them of financial support that the sunnite community enjoy in the mosques, like free electricity, water etc.

The Alevis in Turkey differ from Sunnis and Shia as they have no binding religious dogmas, and teachings are passed on by a spiritual leader. 

The size of the Alevi population in Turkey is disputed, but most estimates place them somewhere between eight and ten million people or about 10 percent of the population.