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Attacks on Alevi places of worship rattle Turkey

The AKP government, which faces an uphill battle to mend ties with the Alevi community ahead of next year’s elections, pledges to bring culprits to justice.
Turkish activists and opposition members gather with pictures of victims — largely from the Alevi community — killed in Madimak Otel on July 2, 2018, in Sivas.

A string of attacks on places of worship and a community leader of Turkey’s largest Alevi community has roused fears that a surge in nationalism is stoking ethnic tensions ahead of next year’s elections. The attacks prompted President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to visit an Alevi temple for the first time since he became president to assure the community that the culprits would be brought to justice.

The president broke the fast with the members of the Alevi community at the historical Huseyin Gazi Cemevi — the Alevi place of worship — on their holiday Ashura on Aug. 8. The day marks the anniversary of the death of Imam al-Hussein, killed in the year 680 AD during the Battle of Karbala in what is now Iraq. Some members of the community declined to be present on the grounds that the visit was a political show, according to media reports.

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