Five different Alevi institutions and cemevis, the places of worship of Turkey’s large Alevi community, located at different locations in the capital Ankara were attacked and vandalized on 30 July.
The attacks targeted Şah-ı Merdan Cemevi, Alevi Democratic Associations of Tuzluçayır, Mother Fatma Cemevi, Gökçebel Village Association and Alevi Bektashi Turkmen Association.
The attacks took place on the first day of the Alevi holy month of Muharram. This month has a special place for the Alevi community as they commemorate the murder of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad.
Şah-ı attacker Merdan Cemevi threw chairs at people during worship.
In the attack at the Turkmen Alevi Bektashi Association, a female employee was stabbed.
The Ankara Police Department said the same person carried out all the attacks and he was arrested.
However, lawyer Hüsniye Şimşek, representing Alevi institutions, told Gazete Duvar that there could be multiple attackers “because the descriptions of the first attacker and the arrested person do not match”.
The attacks sparked a huge reaction on social media and among politicians.
The head of the General Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), Ali Erbaş, condemned the attacks in a statement on Twitter.
Ankara’da Cemevlerine yönelik gerçekleştirilen saldırıyı şiddetle kınıyorum.
Muharrem ayını idrak ettiğimiz bu mübarek günlerde kardeşliğimize kast edenlere fırsat vermeden fitneye, fesada karşı birlik ve beraberliğimizi sürdürmeye devam edeceğiz İnşallah.
– Teacher. Dr. Ali Erbaş (@DIBAliErbas) July 31, 2022
Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ announced that legal proceedings regarding the attack had been initiated.
“The attack on the cemevis of our Alevi brothers/sisters is an attack on our nation and our common moral values. The attack will be enlightened in all its aspects,” Bozdağ said on Twitter.
Ankara’da Cemevlerine yapılan saldırıyı ve provokatör saldırganı kınıyorum.
Alevî kardeşlerimizin cemevlerine yapılan saldırı,milletimize ve hepimizin manevî manevî değerlerine saldırıdır.
Saldırıyla ilgili adlî süreç başlatılmıştır.
Saldırı bütün yönleriyle aydınlatılacaktır.
— Bekir Bozdağ (@bybekirbozdag) July 30, 2022
Condemning the attacks, Meral Akşener, leader of the right-wing opposition İYİ (Good) party, said: “I send my best wishes to my Alevi brothers/sisters. No power will break our unity and our solidarity.
Muharrem ayına girdiğimiz bu mübarek günde, Ankara’da cemevine gerçekleştirilen saldırıyı şiddetle kınıyor,
Alevi kardeşlerime geçmiş olsun dileklerimi iletiyorum.
Hiçbir güç birliğimizi ve beraberliğimizi bozamayacak.
— Meral Aksener (@meral_aksener) July 30, 2022
The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) also released a statement, saying, “These attacks are directly linked to the marginalization of Alevis from political power and the ignorance of their beliefs.”
The statement said there must be multiple attackers rather than just one.
“Detaining a person related to the incident is not an effort to shed light on the incident, on the contrary, it is to cover up the incident. Because it is not possible for a single person to carry out attacks also organized and simultaneous,” the statement said. Lily.
Alevis make up around 15-25% of Turkey’s population, the second largest religious group after Sunni Islam. Despite the fundamental differences in religious practices between the two groups, the Turkish government to this day refuses to recognize Alevi cemevi as a legitimate place of worship and to grant cemevis the same financial support as mosques. Instead, Turkey asserts that the cemevi is a cultural entity.