Skip to main content

Fear of Shiites on the rise in Turkey

The Justice and Development Party government is indifferent to the increase in Shiite-phobia in Turkey.
Shi'ite men attend an Ashura procession in Istanbul November 24, 2012. Ashura, the most important day in the Shi'ite calendar, commemorates the death of Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Mohammad, in the seventh century battle of Kerbala. REUTERS/Murad Sezer (TURKEY - Tags: ANNIVERSARY RELIGION) - RTR3ATPL

Not a day passes without a headline in the Turkish media about the revival of Islamophobia in the West. Pundits wonder how Muslims in the West will be affected. As Al-Monitor’s columnist Cengiz Candar wrote, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is extremely sensitive about the growing Islamophobia in the West and does not miss an opportunity to express his concerns in public. Erdogan’s claim to the leadership of the Muslim world is well documented. Yet, we must ask, are all Muslims equal and treated fairly in Turkey?

Shiite-phobia is the other side of Islamophobia. It is not a term frequently used in Turkey, and the label is often misunderstood. For instance, one notable Shiite elder told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, “There is no fear of the [Shiites], they just really do not like us because they think we are heretics.” Shiite-phobia indicates irrational fear, dislike and hatred toward Shiites. It is anti-Shiism.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 for annual access.