Alevis in Turkey set to demand equal citizenship in congress
Umbrella organizations of Alevi associations in Turkey set out for a big congress on Sunday entitled "We are meeting for a secular and democratic Turkey," where the representatives of the biggest religious minority of Turkey are expected to reject a new reform by the government that brought “assimilation, not freedom”
Scientists, artists and intellectuals from across Turkey will join the event that will start at 10.00 am in Istanbul, and buses from all the Cemevis in the city will bring people for the congress.
A joint statement by several organizations published for the congress called on all Turkish people to unite for equal citizenship, for a secular state and for democracy.
The initiative behind the gathering goes back to early October when Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan announced a decision to establish a state authority to oversee the activities of Alevi cemevis, which was regarded as a “state trustee” by Alevis themselves.
The state institute called the Alevi-Bektasi Culture and Cemevi Presidency within the culture ministry became responsible for cemevi construction, paying bills, maintaining educational and other religious activities, The new entity consists of one president and 10 members, not necessarily of Alevi belief.
But the Alevi organizations described the whole process as a continuation to assimilate Alevis and reduce the Alevi belief to a cultural element, and said what they demanded was an official status for the cemevis and recognition their beliefs.
Gercek News analyst Orhan Kemal Cengiz said the government gives the impression that they are giving everything the Alevis demand but it denies their most fundamental demand by tying the cemevis to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
“By doing this the government still maintains its stance on the issue: “Alevism is not a religion, cemevis are not places of worship;”these are just folkloric things in their essence and they are a part of our "culture" which needs to be supervised by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism,” Cengiz said.
The Chairman of the Alevi Bektashi Federation Mustafa Aslan, in a recent interview with arti gercek Turkish, als said that the presidency is a part of the state's attempts to destroy the Alevi faith and assimilate it.
"We Alevis want equal citizenship. We do not want our faith to be discriminated against. We want our places of worship to be officially recognized and our lodges returned. We want our children not to be taught Sunnism and assimilated in schools,” he said.