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Erdogan’s pre-election gesture to Alevis met with suspicion

Many leaders of Turkey’s Alevi community question the motives behind Erdogan’s plan to create a public authority in charge of Alevi houses of worship.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan gave a speech at the groundbreaking ceremony of the Cemevleri

Religious identity issues have come to the fore of Turkish politics again amid moves by the opposition and the government to court voters beyond their traditional grassroots ahead of crucial elections next year.

In a surprise move last week, main opposition leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu proposed a legal safeguard for the freedom of female public servants to wear the Islamic headscarf, seeking to allay concerns among the pious that his secularist Republican People’s Party (CHP) might reinstate a ban abolished a decade ago if it comes to power next year. In a matter of days, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced a plan to create a public institution to run and help fund cemevis — the houses of worship of Turkey’s sizable Alevi community, which represents a distinct and often ostracized branch in Islam. The body will be attached to the Culture and Tourism Ministry, and Alevi religious leaders will be entitled to public salaries, he said.

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