Alevis targeted in 8 out of 14 hate crimes in Turkey: report

Alevis were targeted in more than half of the hate crimes recorded in Turkey in 2020, according to a report by a human rights organization, Turkish Minute reported, citing the Duvar news website.

The report, titled “Religion and Belief-Based Hate Crimes in Turkey 2020,” published by the Freedom of Belief Initiative, listed data obtained from work monitoring religion or belief-based hate crimes that were committed in Turkey in 2020.

According to the report, which collected and examined the data in compliance with standards for international rights, the ongoing hate crimes against religious or faith communities, their places of worship and other venues, their religious or spiritual leaders, and members go unpunished most of the time.

The reporting and recording of hate crimes by public authorities in Turkey is not at a satisfactory level, the report said.

Noting that the official data on hate crimes in Turkey were limited, the report stated that 14 hate crimes or incidents, committed with a religion or belief-based prejudice, were identified in 2020.

Alevis were targeted in eight of these crimes, while Christians were the objects in five and a headscarved women in one.

Alevis, who are estimated to account for 16.5 percent of Turkey’s population of 83 million, are the second-largest Islamic sect in Turkey, with Sunni Hanafi Islam the largest.

In five cases places of worship or cemeteries were destroyed and property was damaged in five other cases, while there were two cases of insult and two of threat or threatening acts.

The report said official figures on hate crimes in Turkey were not accessible and that the official figures for 2020 reported by public authorities to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) could be obtained from an OSCE report released in 2021.

“The fight against hate crimes and the prevention of these crimes are the state’s legal responsibility, not a favor,” said the report, stressing the need for an integrated approach to hate crimes.

Calling for new regulations on hate crimes, including those committed with a religion or belief-based prejudice, the report urged public authorities to effectively record, report and prosecute them.

There are long-standing tensions between the Alevi and Sunni communities in Turkey. During the Turkish republican era, hundreds of Alevis were killed in pogroms, which many now believe were masterminded by groups inside the state, in the cities of Çorum, Yozgat and Kahramanmaraş in the 1970s.

Thirty-four Alevi intellectuals died in a fire in 1992 at the Madımak Hotel in Sivas. In other incidents, such as in İstanbul’s predominantly Alevi Gazi neighborhood in 1995, Alevis were targeted by individuals armed with machine guns.

Turkey has long denied Alevi demands for state recognition, and Alevi houses of worship, known as cemevis, are not officially recognized by the state, hence given no financial assistance.

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