The Pir Sultan Abdal Culture Associaiton (PSAKD) organized a demonstration in Kadıköy (Istanbul's European side) for the "removal of the religious indication form Turkish IDs and the lifting of compulsory religious education". Alevi organizations, political parties and non-governmental organizations came together on Saturday (6 November). The demonstration was followed by a 24-hour sit-down strike.
At midday on Saturday, members of the PSAKD, The Alevi Bektashi Order Federation, the Party for Freedom and Solidarity (ÖDP), the Turkish Communist Party (TKP), the Socialist Party for the Oppressed (ESP), the Equality and Democracy Party (EDP), the Confederation of Trade Unions of Public Employees (KESK), the Community Centres, the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), the Socialist Democracy Party (SDP) and the Union of Revolutionary College Youths and High School Students (LÖB) walked down the main road to the Kadıköy Pier Square.
About 1,000 people participated in the demonstration and carried banners reading "We want a secular and democratic country for the right to equal citizenship", "Cem houses are our places of worship", "Madımak will be a museum" or "We resist assimilation".
The demonstration was also attended by artist Tolga Sağ, Turkish folk music artist Pınar Sağ, Kurdish musician Ferhat Tunç, Metin Karataş, MHP MP Mehmet Ekici and Ali Ekber Eren.
Gümüş: Governmetn ignores the law
Fevzi Gümüş, General President of the Pir Sultan Abdal Culture Association, said that Alevi children were given compulsory religious education for the past 30 years. "Compulsory religious education is a violation of human rights, it is a crime on humanity. It serves the assimilation of the Alevi children. This approach ignores and denies differences and is assured by the constitution", Gümüş indicated.
He reminded the decision by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to lift compulsory religious education. "The government talks about freedom of belief regarding the headscarf discussion, but they ignore the most basic requests of the Alevi and do not implement the court decision", Gümüş criticized.
Gümüş demanded to stop the construction of mosques in Alevi villages and the transmission of the prayer call via loudspeakers. He furthermore requested abolishing the Ministry for Religious Affairs, attaining a political status for cem houses (Alevi places of worship and assembly) and granting the Alevis their communities. Additionally, he called for transforming the Madımak Hotel into a museum.
Balkız: Government does not recognize ECHR decision
Ali Balkız, President of the Alevi Bektashi Order Federation, demanded, "We want the ECHR decision on abolishing compulsory religious education to be implemented. [...] The state has to acknowledge Alevis and Kurds for the solution of the problems".
Protest action continued till morning
The protest action was continued all night long. The group, equipped with blankets, organized a sit-down strike only interrupted by traditional folk dances. The same organization had previously been carried out in Ankara and will be repeated in Izmir in February or March next year. (BB/EÖ/VK)
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