Five Alevi institutions attacked on same day in Ankara

Five different Alevi institutions, including three cemevis, were attacked simultaneously in the Turkish capital Ankara on July 30. A woman was injured as a result of the knife attack on the Turkmen Alevi Bektashi Association.

Duvar English

Five different Alevi institutions and cemevis, the houses of worship of Turkey’s sizeable Alevi community, at different locations in the capital Ankara were attacked and vandalized on July 30.

The attacks targeted Şah-ı Merdan Cemevi, Tuzluçayır Democratic Alevi Associations, Mother Fatma Cemevi, Gökçebel Village Association and Turkmen Alevi Bektashi Association.

The attacks happened on the first day of the Alevi holy month of Muharram. This month has a special place for the Alevi community because they commemorate the killing of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad.  

The attacker in the Şah-ı Merdan Cemevi threw chairs towards people during the worship.

In the attack that occurred in Turkmen Alevi Bektashi Association, a female employee was stabbed.

The Ankara Police Department said that same person carried out all attacks and that he was detained.

However, lawyer Hüsniye Şimşek, representing Alevi institutions, told Gazete Duvar that there may be several attackers “because the descriptions of the first attacker and the person caught do not match.”

The attacks stirred a huge reaction on social media and among political figures.

The head of the Directorate General of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), Ali Erbaş, condemned the attacks in a statement on Twitter.

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ announced that the judicial process regarding the attack was launched.

“The attack on the cemevis of our Alevi brothers/sisters is an attack on our nation and the moral values of all of us. The attack will be illuminated in all its aspects,” Bozdağ said on Twitter.

Condemning the attacks, right-wing opposition İYİ (Good) Party leader Meral Akşener said: "I send my best wishes to my Alevi brothers/sisters. No power will break our unity and solidarity."

The pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) also released a statement, saying: "These attacks are directly related to the political power's marginalization of Alevis, and ignoring their beliefs."

The statement said that there must be several attackers rather than one.

"Detaining a person related to the incident is not an effort to illuminate the incident, on the contrary, it is to cover up the incident. Because it is not possible for one person to carry out such an organized and simultaneous attacks," the statement read. 

Alevis make up an estimated 15-25 percent of Turkey’s population, the second main religious group after Sunni Islam. Despite the fundamental differences in religious practices between the two groups, the Turkish government to-date refuses to acknowledge Alevi cemevi as the legitimate place of worship and to grant cemevis the same financial support as mosques. Instead, Turkey claims that cemevi is a cultural entity.