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Turkey's Alevi community fears more than just IS

With evidence indicating imminent IS attacks against them, Turkey's Alevi minorities wonder who they can trust after years of dangerous rhetoric and polices from the AKP government.
A retired manufacturer and head of an Alevi association Muzaffer Aksakal, 65,  poses in his association's cafe in Istanbul, Turkey April 10, 2017. Aksakal describes himself as being "socialist and secular". He says he will vote 'No' in the referendum. "If the 'Yes' wins, parliament will be useless and the right to declare war or peace will be in the hands of a single man." Aksakal belongs to the Alevi religious minority, which make up about 15-20 percent of Turkey's 80 million people. Alevis draw from Shi'i

News broke May 21 that a team of Turkish police officers with the Counter-Terrorism Department killed two Islamic State (IS) members who were preparing for an attack in the capital, Ankara. One suspected target was a prominent Alevi cultural foundation in Ankara. The terrorists had photos and floor plans of the building. This was not the first time a "cemevi" (an Alevi house of gathering and prayer) appared on IS' radar.

Ankara Gov. Ercan Topaca assembled representatives of Alevi organizations and senior police officers May 25 to warn the Alevis to be vigilant and seek private security for their prayer houses. The news was published only in a few news outlets and did not receive much attention except in the Alevi population. Gani Kaplan, chairman of the Pir Sultan Abdal Cultural Association, told the newspapers something crucial: "The authorities always tell us we are under threat and we must take precautions. We fear Turkey is under the threat of a civil war." Kaplan warned that tensions are already so high between Sunnis and Alevis that any attack could set off further conflict.

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