Islamization in Turkey

Hate campaign against Istanbul's mayor (Press Release)

The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) strongly criticizes the smear campaign with which Islamist groups in Turkey are attacking the Mayor of Istanbul, Ekrem Imamoglu. In this regard, the human rights organization also appealed to German policy-makers at federal and state level to condemn the intolerant behavior of the Turkish ruling party AKP.

"The reason for the smear campaign in government-loyal media is the depiction of an Alevi cleric next to a Muslim, a Christian, and a Jewish cleric in a brochure," explained Dr. Kamal Sido, Middle East Consultant of the STP. The city of Istanbul had published it on behalf of Mayor Imamoglu in the context of the "National Sovereignty and Children's Day" on April 23. The brochure, entitled "The State Should be Secular", is about the most important values of democracy. "Imamoglu has repeatedly supported Erdogan in his nationalist policies and also in his attacks against the Kurds, Alevis, Christians, and Yazidis in neighboring Syria or Iraq – which are to be seen as violations of international law," Sido emphasized. "In his hometown Istanbul, however, he is more tolerant towards minorities. His liberal attitude towards the Alevi religious community is worthy of support.

Ever since Erdogan and his Islamist AKP took power, the Alevis in the country – but also the Christian and Yazidi communities – were increasingly confronted with a policy of Islamization. This had led to increasing tensions between Sunnis and Alevis, not only in Turkey. In Germany, where the Alevi community has up to 800,000 members, the relationship is becoming more difficult as well. "In Turkey, the Presidium for Religious Affairs is mainly responsible for the Islamization of the country. In Germany, this task was taken over by DITIB, the Turkish-Islamic Union of the Institute for Religion," Sido explained. Recently, two expert opinions (on the basis of which the Hessian state government terminated its cooperation with the organization in matters of Islamic religious instruction last Tuesday) had confirmed that DITIB is acting on behalf of the Islamist AKP in Germany. "In its mosques, DITIB also promotes Erdogan's wars inside and outside Turkey," Sido criticized.

Sporting the motto "We are all Muslims" (Hepimiz Müslümaniz), the AKP government is promoting assimilation and Sunnitisation. For example, there are initiatives to build mosques in Alevi villages, although the approximately 14 to 20 million members of the Alevi religious community in Turkey do not pray in mosques but in so-called Cem houses.