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Turkish Alevi Muslims differ on fast-breaking dinner attended by premier 15 janvier 2008

Posted by Acturca in Religion, Turkey / Turquie.
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BBC Monitoring European, 15 January 2008                           Türkçe

Text of report by Turkish newspaper Milliyet website on 13 January *

The fast-breaking dinner the AKP [ruling Justice and Development Party] held on the occasion of the holy month of Muharrem added to the controversy among the Alevi people. Some of the Alevi organizations, which attended the dinner, made this assessment:

Ali Toren, chairman of the Abdal Musa Research and Cultural Association: The dinner was the first in the republic’s history. Prime Minister Erdogan’s speech carried positive messages aimed at removing the crisis between the Alevis and the state. Acting like a statesmen, he showed that the state stands close to the Alevi people. It was a dinner worthy of his Eminence Huseyin.

Veli Gurler, chairman of the Federation of Alevi Worship Houses: A sincere atmosphere prevailed. The hymns, prayers, and the tears of the ministers stirred emotional feelings. Prime Minister Erdogan was sincere in what he said.

Kurcebe Noyan, founder of the Cem Foundation and a Bektasi Sect dervish: No one can accuse me of being fond [of dinners]. Do not assess the number of people who attended the dinner in accordance with the number of associations. Some of the dervishes do not have even five followers. Some of the others, however, shoulder the responsibility of 10,000 followers. There are many signboard associations.

Haydar Salman, member of the Can Friendship Association: It was very good. We were enlightened.

The organizations which failed to attend said:

Izzettin Dogan, chairman of the Cem Foundation: The dinner should be seen as another failure of the administration particularly if it was supported by the prime minister. The Alevis have been deprived of some of their rights. The administration has the strength to rectify that state of affairs. We will gladly attend a dinner if it does so. If a dinner is held just for the sake of patting our backs, then it must be said that the prime minister does not deserve any sympathy. Those who attended the dinner were businessmen who probably have or should have relations with the administration.

Kazim Genc, chairman of the Pir Sultan Abdal Cultural Association: Hizir Pasha and not the Alevis were kept in mind when the dinner was held. We urged the organizations not to attend. Those which attended were established after the announcement that a dinner would be held. They are pseudo associations and organizations which were established only three months ago. Prime Minister Erdogan did not mention the word Alevi even for once in his speech. Which initiative did he disclose? The dinner was a show. It ended in fiasco.

Ali Kenanoglu, chairman of the Hubyer Foundation: As far as the Alevis are concerned, Erdogan is a criminal. He tried to have the Cemevi [Worshipping House] in Karacaahmet closed down when he was the mayor of Istanbul. The Alevi people will not forget the past for the sake of a meagre salary. Everyone must be aware of where he stands.

Prof Dr Burhan Senatalar, speaking on behalf of the 10 December Movement: The dinner was dull and unsuccessful. It failed to achieve its objective.

All of us were Alevis

AKP member Salih Kapusuz also attended the dinner. He said: « This is the first time I attend such a dinner. The prime minister’s statement on unity was convincing. I am fasting. » AKP member Yahya Akman noted: « We were all Alevis that night. » AKP member Reha Camuroglu, who organized the dinner, asserted: « The fast-breaking dinner was the first. More will be held. The objective was achieved. »

* [Report by Onder Yilmaz and Yildiz Yazicioglu: « Alevi Organizations Involved in Controversy Over Dinner »]

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