Big Rock Candy Mountain

The official voice of the Deseret Liberation Organization

Minority rights in Turkey

In the World Politics Review, Pat Wrigley writes:

The Kurds have often grabbed the international headlines as a result of the ongoing war in the southeast. However, in many ways the Alevis serve as a better illustration of Turkey’s minority rights progress. Turkish Alevis, who number approximately 11 million, or 15 percent of the population, according to estimates based on a U.S. National Security Council report, belong to a syncretic religion aligned with the Shiite branch of Islam. The community has consistently been seen as a threat to the state by secular nationalists and Islamists alike, arousing suspicion for their heterodoxy and also for their traditional alignment with left leaning parties. With the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) bringing a particular brand of Sunni Islam to government and the simmering tension of nationalism again coming to the surface, the position of Alevis remains crucial and yet marginalized.

He goes on to refer to an interview with the University of Utah’s own Hakan Yavuz, one of the nation’s top scholars on Turkey. He talks about the fact that the Turkish state somehow manages to be both secular and Sunni, due to the combination of Islamizing and democratizing forces from east and west. Turkey’s insistence on one Turkish identity also complicates the issue.

The central problem Turkey is experiencing is its attempt to become the first secular majority-Muslim state. We encountered similar problems during our history. This is really a frontier, the place where Islam’s various sects finally learn to coexist politically. If Turkey can avoid going back into military rule, it will make a powerful announcement to the region: secularism hasn’t hurt our Islam one bit.

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