Erdogan appoints Interior Minister’s advisor as the head of controversial Alevi directorate
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appointed Ali Arif Ozzeybek as the head of the Alevi-Bektasi Culture and Cemevi Presidency, that was established in November amid Alevi community’s protests.
Ali Arif Ozzeybek who was appointed by a presidential decree on Thursday, was serving as an advisor to Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu, Halk Tv reported on Friday.
Ozzeybek has served as the Chief Advisor to main opposition CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu in 2011, it said.
The establishment of the state-owned directorate was initiated by Erdogan in October with the aim of “addressing Alevi community’s lingering problems”.
Alevi organisations that slammed the government bill establishing the Alevi-Bektasi Culture and Cemevi Presidency of being “inadequate”, saying that the bill only relates to the cultural aspects, but does not meet their demands for the recognition of Alevism as a religious belief and acknowledging Cemevis as official places of worship.
Opposing the bill, the representatives of the organizations said the government was trying to assimilate the Alevis by putting their religious leaders on payroll.
Alevism is a religious belief in which Prophet Muhammad’s son-in-law Ali and his descendants were regarded as sacred. Like Shia Muslims, they adhere to Twelve Imams as the rightful representative of Islam, rejecting the legitimacy of the following caliphates who they say contrasted the imams.
The state institute established under the Ministry of Culture is responsible for Cemevi construction, paying bills, maintaining educational and other religious activities. The new entity consists of one president and ten members, not necessarily of Alevi belief.