Turkish Alevi associations declare support for Erdoğan’s rival in presidential race

An umbrella organization of some 900 Alevi groups announced on Friday that it will support the joint candidate of the main opposition parties, Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, in Turkey’s presidential election this Sunday.
The Federation of Alevi Foundations (AVF), which represents 600 cemevi associations and 300 local Alevi community associations, made the announcement at a press conference at an İstanbul cemevi, or Alevi place of worship.
“We, as the oppressed people of this country who long for a country in which women laugh freely and decide on their own how many children they should have and where cemevis are accepted as places of worship, have decided to support Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu,”AVF leader Cemal Canpolat said at the press conference.
He said the main reason why the AVF decided to support İhsanoğlu was that he respected the principle of secularism and modernization reforms carried out by Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic.
“The president of this country should be a person who does not discriminate among his own people and who does not pursue sectarianism,” said Canpolat.
A press statement distributed at the conference stated that Turkey was passing through a turbulent time and complained of a “blind mentality” that incites hostilities among different segments of the society and “feeds on a rhetoric of hatred.” It praised İhsanoğlu for having “peaceful rhetoric,” promoting tolerance and heeding demands of Alevis and other groups in the society.
İhsanoğlu, the former secretary-general of the 56-nation Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), is the joint candidate of five opposition parties, including the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). İhsanoğlu is the main contender of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is also a candidate for his Justice and Development Party (AK Party), even though Erdoğan is widely expected to win the race despite his rhetoric that his critics say is polarizing the society and fueling sectarian rifts.
The third candidate standing in the election is Selahattin Demirtaş of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).
If no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the votes, a second round will be held between the two candidates that get the most votes on Aug. 24.
A main Alevi group, the Alevi-Bektashi Federation, has also announced support for İhsanoğlu in the upcoming election. The group, which represents nearly 200 associations and 150,000 members, called on Alevis in an announcement on Aug. 4 to go to the ballot boxes on Aug. 10 and “not to cast a single vote for Erdoğan,” accusing him of pursuing “sectarian and separatist policies.”


About yavuzbaydar

Yavuz Baydar has been an award-winning Turkish journalist, whose professional activity spans nearly four decades. In December 2013, Baydar co-founded the independent media platform, P24, Punto24, to monitor the media sector of Turkey, as well as organizing surveys, and training workshops. Baydar wrote opinion columns, in Turkish, liberal daily Ozgur Dusunce and news site Haberdar, and in English, daily Today's Zaman, on domestic and foreign policy issues related to Turkey, and media matters, until all had to cease publications due to growing political oppression. Currently, he writes regular chronicles for Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, and opinion columns for the Arab Weekly, as well as analysis for Index on Censorship. Baydar blogs with the Huffington Post, sharing his his analysis and views on Turkish politics, the Middle East, Balkans, Europe, U.S-Turkish relations, human rights, free speech, press freedom, history, etc. His opinion articles appeared at the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais, Svenska Dagbladet, and Al Jazeera English online. Turkey’s first news ombudsman, beginning at Milliyet daily in 1999, Baydar worked in the same role as reader representative until 2014. His work included reader complaints with content, and commentary on media ethics. Working in a tough professional climate had its costs: he was twice forced to leave his job, after his self-critical columns on journalistic flaws and fabricated news stories. Baydar worked as producer and news presenter in Swedish Radio &TV Corp. (SR) Stockholm, Sweden between 1979-1991; as correspondent for Scandinavia and Baltics for Turkish daily Cumhuriyet between 1980-1992, and the BBC World Service, in early 1990's. Returning to Turkey in 1994, he worked as reporter and ediytor for various outlets in print, as well as hosting debate porogrammes in public and private TV channels. Baydar studied informatics, cybernetics and, later, had his journalism ediucatiob in the University of Stockholm. Baydar served as president of the U.S. based International Organizaton of News Ombudsmen (ONO) in 2003. He was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at University of Michigan in 2004. Baydar was given the Special Award of the European Press Prize (EPP), for 'excellence in journalism', along with the Guardian and Der Spiegel in 2014. He won the Umbria Journalism Award in March 2014 and Caravella/Mare Nostrum Prize in 2015; both in Italy. Baydar completed an extensive research on self-censorship, corruption in media, and growing threats over journalism in Turkey as a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
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