Turkey's Alawites Cry Out Against Religious Oppression, Inequality

Article Summary
As Turkey’s long-secular state sees a creeping increase in the influence of religious institutions, Ardikal Kilimandjaro voices concern over the marginalization of the country’s 20 million Alawites.

The following article expounds on the Alawites’ position in the Turkish domestic debate:

Despair is creeping up on Alawites as Islamization is on the rise once again in Turkey. Under the banner of a “secular state,” the Turkish government adopts a policy of propaganda, the sole aim of which is to establish a new ideological model entitled “Race, Religion, Language.”

In France, the Alawite Federation is taking part in a growing Alawite movement in Europe, which is represented by the European Alawite Unions Confederation. The confederation has more than one million members in 14 different countries. Because of this, 200,000 Alawites across France — from Bordeaux to Strasbourg — are struggling to preserve the freedom of expression and belief of Alawites in other countries.

In fact, nearly 25 million Alawites live in Turkey. They called upon the European Court of Human Rights to demand the abolition of mandatory religious classes for boys and to ban any reference to religion on Turkish identity cards. However, the Turkish judiciary has deliberately ignored the decision of the European Court of Human Rights that was issued on October 9, 2007, ruling in favor of an Alawite plaintiff.

Despite our desperate struggle and ongoing resistance, the Turkish government continues to apply its policy of disgraceful injustice. Turkey is slowly sliding toward civil war, repressively applying its policy of assimilation and neutralization. Anatolia, the land of wealth and culture, is gradually turning into the land of hatred and oppression before our very eyes.

The religious-affairs official in the Turkish government has refused all suggestions made by Alawites so far. Our complaints that the Religious Affairs Committee takes into account the needs of other religions were all rejected. The committee’s role is to finance the needs of the different Islamic organizations and components, including imams, religious sermons and mosques. Unfortunately, our demands that mandatory religious classes in high school be ended, or to have our own places of worship recognized and built, were in vain.

However, prejudice against fundamental freedoms did not stop at this. Turkey is showing a firm determination toward establishing mosques in universities, introducing religious education at elementary level and even banning abortion.

What about the release of those involved in starting a fire in the city of Sivas, as charges were dropped due to the passage of time? Do we have to be burnt alive in the 21st century so that Europe can see reality for what it is? We are Alawites. We are peaceful and humane people and we plead for your support in order to avoid the worst.

Found in: religious education, religious, alawites

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