A leading figure of an Alevi cultural association has spoken out against Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s recent remarks on the Alevi faith, criticizing Erdoğan for attempting to categorize and define other people’s faiths.
“The duty of a prime minister is not to define faiths, to categorize believers and to represent himself as a perfect example of that faith as well,” Ali Kenanoğlu, head of Hubyar Sultan Alevi Culture Association, said in a press release on July 18.
The statement followed Erdoğan’s controversial speech from the previous day, where the prime minister claimed he was “a perfect Alevi” if the Alevi faith meant “loving the caliph Ali,” referring to the son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad from whom the term “Alevi” is derived.
“To give Alevi communities their equal rights, their freedom of belief and to respond to their societal demands cannot be achieved through declaring oneself to be an Alevi. It is a terrible event for the prime minister not to just declare himself an Alevi, but, as if mocking the community, to declare himself a perfect one,” the statement further said.
Kenanoğlu called on the prime minister to deal with the demands of the community regarding freedom of belief and worship and to give up “trying to shape and define faiths and their worships.”
Erdoğan should instead aim at “becoming a man of conscience,” who respects rights and laws, Kenanoğlu added.