Samstag, 4. Februar 2017

Alevi cem evi—Turkey’s neverending struggle with its diversity

The government’s refusal to-date to recognize cem evis as the legitimate place of worship of Alevis is only one of many aspects of Turkey’s continuous struggle with diversity.  Valuable energies are wasted on efforts to suppress diversity, the differences in people that make any nation great, the reason why many people flock to countries such as the United States of America and claim their unwavering allegiance. Turkey’s ruling party continues its anti-diversity efforts, as if through oppression and denial, diversity will vanish one day and Turkey will finally become some sort of a homogeneous state, and national unity will be guaranteed; as if diversity, and not the constant attempt to suppress, has been the real threat to Turkey’s unity all along.

One Religion, One Place of Worship?
After centuries of denying that the Alevis even existed, Turkey now seems stuck with the inability to admit the obvious, that cem evis are the place of worship of the Alevis, displaying just how difficult it apparently is for some to accept and respect differences. The status-quo further demonstrates that the ruling party’s Alevi opening effort was only intended to gain Alevi support, to be followed by efforts to assimilate the community.

However, nothing demonstrates the ruling party’s disregard for diversity better than Mr. Erdogan’s one religion, one place of worship claim. In spite of the religious and practical differences between Sunnis and Alevis, President Erdogan insists that Alevis and Sunnis worship together in a mosque; an utmost inappropriate suggestion, the very least, for anyone who can appreciate the difference between Alevi and Sunni worship for what they are: differences—not good, not bad, just differences.  

Fighting the inevitable: equal rights for Alevis
The handling of the Alevi question reflects Turkey’s inability to acknowledge and appreciate her diversity and her last attempts to fight the inevitable, creating only more animosity in the meantime. However, change is coming and no one, not even the ruling party, will be able to stop it, because in the 21st century, the majority of Turks are too well-informed and enlightened to buy into dehumanizing and disrespectful narratives about homogeneity. They already decided that such ideals are neither realistic nor welcome any longer.

It is only a matter of time that cem evis will be recognized as a place of worship and Alevis will have access to the rights that they are entitled to. What a shame that they have to wait so long for something so basic such as equal treatment under the law.

Alev Dudek is a German-American researcher, analyst, and author of Turkish descent. As an established scholar in diversity, she served on the executive board of the International Society for Diversity Management, in Berlin, as well as the City of Kalamazoo Community Relations Board. Ms. Dudek received The National Security Education Program (NSEP) award in 2014.

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