Turkey arrests perpetrator of attacks on Alevi cemevis in Ankara

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Turkish security forces have arrested a suspect accused of attacking places of worship (cemevi) and Alevi associations in three neighborhoods of Ankara, the Turkish capital. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Alevi community leaders condemned the attack.

The suspect targeted the headquarters of the Türkmen Alevi Bektaşi Foundation in Çankaya, the Şah-ı Merdan Cultural Association, as well as the Ana Fatma Cemevi in ​​Mamak districts.

The suspect, identified only by the initials AOK, was arrested after a thorough investigation.

Kazım Erbektaş, the Alevi Dede (socio-religious leader of Alevi communities) of Şah-ı Merdan Cemevi noted that government officials left no provocation and immediately mobilized all security forces to find the perpetrator.

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ condemned the attack and pledged to shed light on it.

“I condemn the attacks against cemevis in Ankara and the provocative attacker. The attack on our Alevi brothers and sisters and their cemevis is an attack on our nation and our moral values,” the justice minister said on his Twitter account, adding that legal proceedings have been launched against the incident.

AK party spokesman Ömer Çelik also condemned the attack, saying it targets everyone and is an attempt to provoke during the month of Muharram, a holy month for Muslims. Sunnis and Alevis.

“…the main objective of these attacks and provocations is clear but we will never let them achieve their goal,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ankara Governor Vasip Şahin visited the headquarters of the Türkmen Alevi Bektaşi Foundation in Çankaya and the cemevi Şah-ı Merdan.

Noting that he had visited the cemevis to express his solidarity with them, Şahin thanked the dedes and leaders of the Alevi community for their cautious and calm attitude in the face of the provocative attack.

The Alevis, who are the second largest religious community in the country with around 20 million followers, have a list of concerns over various issues, including public recognition of their identity, the legal status of cemevis – their places of worship – and funding. , as well as the prerogative for Alevi students to be excluded from compulsory religion classes in elementary and secondary schools.

Cemevis are currently considered foundations under the Turkish Ministries of Interior, Culture and Tourism, rather than recognized as places of worship, which would legally entitle them to receive state funding like mosques, churches and synagogues of recognized religious minorities in the country. Some 80-90% of all cemevis in the country have been built under successive AK Party governments since 2002, according to former minister Lütfi Elvan.

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