Quarrel in the Turkish Parliament over treatment of Alevis
Lawmakers in Turkey's Grand Assembly had a heated quarrel on Monday over the ruling party's approach to addressing problems faced by Alevi communities.
Deputies for the pro-Kurdish opposition Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) criticized a move by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) to propose a legislation regarding Alevi houses of gathering (djemevis) not as an individual bill, but as part of a bill that contained several articles on various issues.
HDP deputy Ridvan Turan told the Commission on Planning and Budget that it was inappropriate to address a major issue of such political and social importance through a "legislation bundle."
When Garo Paylan, HDP deputy and a member of the Armenian community in Turkey, told the commission that the attitude of proposing a legislation on djemevis within a bundle of unrelated amendments signified an unequal treatment of Turkish citizens, Ugur Aydemir, deputy for the AKP, accused Paylan of "being a separatist."
Paylan responded to him saying, "Your are the one who is acting like a separatist."
When Paylan went on to say that all houses of worship were not granted equal rights and opportunities in Turkey although all worshipers payed the same taxes, AKP deputy Cemal Ozturk said to Paylan: "Why do Alevis concern you? They are Muslims, and you are a Christian."
Ozturk later also said:
"It disturbed me extremely that he talked about Alevi belief as if it is a separate faith. Alevi belief is not a religion, it is a part of Islam."
Paylan told ANKA news agency:
"He [Ozturk] displayed a terrible act of discrimination. Before everything else, I am a human. I am also a democrat, and the problems Alevis have been facing because of discrimination are also my problems."