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European Court condemns Turkey for discriminating against Alevis

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In a ruling delivered on 2 December 2014, the European Court of Human Rights condemned Turkey for refusing to grant the Alevi religous minority the same status and advantages as those of other faiths.

Although it is practiced by 15 to 20 million Turks, the Turkish state does not look upon Alevism as a religion.

Alevis are Shiite Muslims (Alevi means "follower of Ali") who advocate to a thorough exegesis of the Qur’an and its adaptation to every place and in every age. They do not go to the mosque, but practice the semah ritual (the "whirling dervishes"). Believers in the strict equality between men and women, they promoted secularism in Turkey but have still do reap the benefits.

Since the sixteenth century, the Ottoman or Turkish state has suppressed or ostracized Alevis. The latest massacre took place in 1993 (during the Sivas cultural festival). To date, there is still no high-ranking Alevi official although this community is particularly brilliant.

On 16 November 2014, when the European Court ruling was announced, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu revealed plans to solve the Alevi problem. However, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s words are always full of contempt for them. For its part, the CHP opposition party, filed a bill to address the question. It provides for the recognition of Alevi places of worship, removing the mention of religion from identity cards, the repeal of courses on religious culture, the adoption of a public holiday for the great Alevi event of Ghadir Khom and the transformation of the Madimak Hotel (the site of the 1993 massacre) into a museum.

«Affaire Cumhuriyetçi Eğitim Ve Kültür Merkezi Vakfi c. Turquie]» (requête n°32093/10), European Court of Human Rights, 2 December 2014.

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