Alevi leaders decry Erdogan’s visit to Cemevi

Alevi leaders decry Erdogan’s visit to Cemevi
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Visiting a Cemevi without recognizing it as a place of worship is nothing but hypocrisy, Pir Sultan Abdal Cultural Association Secretary General Ismail Ates said.

Several organizations of Turkey’s largest religious minority community turned thumbs down on Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to a Cemevi in Turkish capital Ankara on Monday saying that the government should recognise the identity and the rights of the Alevis instead of establishing a patronizing mentality.

Erdogan broke fast in Huseyin Gazi Cemevi on the sacred day of Ashura, the day Husayn ibn Ali, a grandson of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, was killed in the Battle of Karbala, an event widely commemorated by the Alevis.

"I hope the Day of Ashura and the month of Muharram, which are symbols of unity and solidarity, will be auspicious for the entire Muslim world," Erdogan said on Twitter.

But his visit heightened the dividing wall between the alevis supporting the ruling bloc and those who oppose government’s practises over the minority.

Ali Oz, the president of Cankaya Cemevi who was also present at the dinner said that “to be disturbed by [the President’s visit] was something beyond anarchism” .

However, many Alevi organizations expressed discontent about the visit and accused the Alevi leaders who were there. 

Pir Sultan Abdal Cultural Association (PSAKD) Secretary General Ismail Ates said that only four of the Alevi leaders were informed by the presidency, renouncing the visit by saying the “Cemevi is a place of worship, not a reception”

“You do not accept the Cemevi as a place of worship, you build mosques forcefully in Alevi villages, you teach our children forcefully about Sunnism, and then you go to Cemevi. This is nothing but hypocrisy,” he said. 

Several attacks on the Cemevis and Alevi leaders rattled Turkey in the previous weeks, creating anxiety over a possible Alevi-Sunni rift.

Cemevis are 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.