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Turkish Alevis Refuse 'Sunnification'

Shiites and Alevis in Turkey continue to struggle for rights and recognition.
A protester holds a banner reading "we are alevi" as he and many others wait to hear the decision of the court in front of a courthouse in Ankara March 13, 2012. Turkish police fired tear-gas and water cannon to disperse hundreds protesting on Tuesday against the dropping of a case against five people charged with killing 37 writers and liberals in a 1993 hotel fire set off by Islamist rioters.The opposition accused Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and his AK Party, which emerged from a series of banned Islami
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On Sept. 8, in Tuzlucayir, a poor suburb of Ankara, a major ground-laying ceremony was celebrated for "a mosque and cemevi [an Alevi place of worship] side-by-side." This project was initiated by the Fethullah Gulen Movement and supported by a prominent Alevi dede, or elder, Izzettin Dogan. Yet, the celebration was overshadowed by angry street protesters who clashed with the police. You may wonder why such a generous and grandiose project would be deemed unacceptable by a relatively poor neighborhood.

The idea of mosque and cemevi together was made public by Gulen’s declaration around mid-June as a sign of rapprochement after the controversial naming of a bridge across the Bosphorus. Alevi elder Dogan announced on his web page that the idea was welcomed by Alevis. However, since the construction started on Sept. 8, Tuzlucayir protests have not stopped. Several Alevi representatives throughout Turkey and in the diaspora went public with their opposition to the project.

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