Today my blog piece is again about an article. The article is written by Ahmet Öncü and Gürcan Koçan with the name “Citizen Alevi in Turkey: Beyond Confirmation and Denial”.




Here are some important points covered in the article:



  • Understood as one “imagined” homogeneous socio-cultural-political whole (Gellner, 1997; Anderson, 1991), the nation state derives its legitimacy not only from its formal public authority, but also from its population’s sense of identification with that whole.
  • Similar to European cases, in the process of nation building the Turkish ruling elite used a wide range of means – founding a secular public school system, institutionalizing a single official national language, accepting of new alphabet and laws, imposing compulsory minimum education, establishing official institutions of language and history, creating national holidays and symbols, and instituting compulsory military service – to help spread and unite a sense of nationhood (Shaw and Shaw, 1977). In terms of statehood formation, this project may be summed up by the term elitist republicanism (Szyliowicz, 1975). By elitist republicanism, we refer to nation state formation that encourages rule making by an elite (or the government of the few) rather than through the participation of citizens.
  • Turkish nation-building complex process of transition from a collectivity of communities (Gemeinshaft) to a society (Gesellshaft) (Tönnies, 1964), which involved a fundamental change in the relationship of individuals with political authority.
  • Turkish citizenship has been a form of anomalous amalgamation since its conception. On the one hand, the state insisted on the pre-emptive exclusion of religion and various communal cultural identities from politics, while on other hand it promoted a particular religious identity primarily as a means of promoting cultural and social solidarity among its citizens. As result, members of non-Sunni communities, such as the Alevi, suffered from the biased standpoint of the state.
  • The exclusion of Alevis from the Directorate of Religious Affairs demonstrated how non-Sunnis were required to suppress their true cultural identity
  • There are competing definitions about Alevism. These competing definitions often consider Alevism as a heterodox sect within Islam, as Turkish Anatolian Islam, as a philosophy, as Sufi or Shiite in nature or as a syncretic mixture of elements of Islam, Christianity and Shamanism. Besides these characteristics, Alevism has also commonly been applied to different cultural communities with particular common meanings.
  • Some of these references might have been to Ehlibeyt (love of the Prophet’s family), to the love of Ali (cousin and husband of the Prophet Muhammad’s daughter), to the Oniki mam (Twelve Imams), to Teslis (the trinity, Allah- Muhammed-Ali), and to prominent figures of their faith such as Ahmet Yesevi, Hacı Bekta Veli and Pir Sultan Abdal.
  • Anatolian Alevism/Turkish Alevism appeared as a result of the Turkmen’s accepting Islam in the beginning of the tenth century. Before they used to believe in shamanism and buddhism.
  • It is a body of beliefs affected by various beliefs and cultures. The nomadic Turkmens combined Sunni Islam with some of their already existing religious traditions.
  • Linguistically, they consist of four groups: Azerbaijani Turkish, Arabic, Turkish and Kurdish (both Kurmanci and Zaza). The last two categories constitute the largest Alevi groups.
  • Alevism means to love and respect Ali, the cousin and father-in-law of the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh). Unlike Sunnism,Alevism does not possess a tradition of authoritative religious scholarship and official carriers of formal learning.
  • In Sunni Islam, the basic theological text is comprised of the Koran, the Sunnah (the sayings and doings of the Prophet Muhammad), the icma (the consensus among Muslims) and the kiyas (the analogy done by Islamic Ulama). Sunni Muslims, adherents of the mainstream denomination in Islam, follow the traditional authority coming from the four caliphs —Abubekr, Omer, Othman and Ali — by means of Ommayad and Abbasid authorities
  • After 1980 coup, Turkish Islam Synthesis promoted Sunni Islam as an antidote to Communism. Alevis felt alienated.
  • Numbers of Imam Hatip increased
  • Alevism has got politicized after such steps.
  • You can find more about Alevism issue:


Alevis and Alevism in the Changing Context of Turkish Politics: The Justice and Development Party’s Alevi Opening



-ALEVISM IN TURKEY: PROBLEM AND SOLUTIONS; Seven demands, seven proposals






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