Turkey’s Alevi spiritual leader arrested by government over coup charges

Süleyman Alan

An Alevi spiritual leader has been arrested by an İstanbul court over his alleged links to the Gülen movement.  Turkeypurge.com has learned that Süleyman Alan was detained by police on May 24, 2017 and arrested by an İstanbul court later the same day. He was later transfered to a prison in Kırklareli Province.

Alan is a “dede,” a socio-religious leader in the Islamic Alevi community. The institution of dede is the most important of all the institutions integral to the social and religious organization of the Anatolian Alevis. Although exact figures do not exist, Alevisö is approximately 20 million adherents constitute the second-largest religious community in Turkey, after Sunni Muslims.

 

There is a tension between the Alevi and Sunni communities in Turkey and it dates back to Ottoman times. In 1511, the Ottoman army brutally suppressed a revolt by the Kızılbaş Turkmens of the Alevi faith on Anatolian soil, and as many as 40,000 were killed. The Battle of Çaldıran, fought between the Ottoman Empire under Yavuz Sultan Selim and Safavid Shah Ismail in 1514, resulted in the sultan issuing an edict to kill all the Kızılbaş in the region.

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 were burned to death in 1992 inside 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 survived a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed over 240 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting participants of the Gülen movement in jails.

At least 161,751 people were detained or investigated and 50,334 people were arrested in Turkey in the framework of the Turkish government’s massive post-coup witch hunt campaign targeting alleged members of the Gülen movement since the controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016, according to statistics reported by state-run Anadolu news agency by basing on information taken from the officials from Turkey’s Justice Minsitry on June 13.(turkeypurge.com) June 27, 2017

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