Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu has been involved in yet another controversy, angering country’s Alevi faith members by portraying Alevism – a faith within Islam- as a separate religion. Prominent Alevi figures condemned the incident and said such action only hurt their community.
Istanbul Greater Municipality prepared and distributed brochures for kids as part of the April 23rd Children’s Day celebrations. One specific picture in the handbook irked the strong Alevi community in Turkey. The drawing in the handbook showed an Imam, a Priest, a Rabbi and an Alevi Dede sitting together. Placing an Alevi Dede along with religious leaders of three religions certainly created a deception that Alevism is a religion as Islam, Judaism and Christianity. The unfortunate incident drew criticism from all parts of society as well as Alevis themselves.
Turkmen Alevi Bektasi Foundation head Ozdemir Ozdemir said he finds it extremely wrong that Alevism portrayed as a religion by Istanbul Municipality and Alevi community have been offended by the irresponsible act. “Imamoglu himself and his administration should first read the history of Alevism to learn about it. Imamoglu is making a mistake. He might be engaged with some sham Alevi foundations which are in close connections with certain terror groups,” Ozdemir continued. He also said Imamoglu offended Alevi community as they entered the holy month of Ramadan. Ozdemir said his foundation will press charges against the municipality. “While everyone has been trying to fight a fatal virus, this is very wrong,” Ozdemir said. He also pointed out that Ekrem Imamoglu should apologize from Alevis for offending them.
Alevism emerged in Turkey during the 10th century. It is branch of Islam and practiced in Turkey and Balkans among various ethnic groups.