Hakan Mertcan – EN: Arab Alevis [Alawis] in Turkish Modernization: History, Identity, Politics / TR: Türk Modernleşmesinde Arap Alevileri: Tarih, Kimlik, Siyaset


We discussed Arab Alevis [Alawis] over the PhD study of Hakan Mertcan entitled “Arab Alevis in Turkish Modernisation: History, Identity, Politics”…

Interview: Zeynep Arslan


Support for English Transcript Translation: Aysel Çelik & Şevket Özdemir

Zeynep Arslan: Dear Mertcan, I ask you to mention briefly the main points regarding the origin and content of Arab Alevism while embarking on the interview.

Hakan Mertcan: We cannot mention just one Alevism. There are many existing Alevisms. Arab Alevism is one of these Alevisms. Not just due to my doctoral thesis but also as a member living in this society my whole life and relying on my observations I can say that we are talking about a living vein to have the original resources of Alevi doctrine, to be able to continue the belief of Alevism seriously and widely and transmit to their children when we talk about the Alevis. […] Arabic is the first language of this society. The leaders of this society try to keep and transmit that language eventhough important assimilation policies of the Turkish Republic took place. […]Written resources are transmitted over hundreds of years over generations until today. […] Also, members who do not know the language can use those resources. And for this vitality (and resistance against assimilation; Z.A.) this society always has been in attention of the centrally ruling governments (above all during the Ottoman Empire; Z.A.). Particularly in Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Eastern Mediterranean and parallely to the coast, the Arab Alevis do live a settled and autochthonous life. Eventhough their existance has been nearly eliminated during Yavuz Sultan Selim‘s rulership they have managed to keep alive and return to their original settlements. Within the last 6 years they have experienced 15 massacres in Syria and still keep on not giving up their identity. […] Today the Alevi populations have some existing centres. Dersim is one of them and Latakia too. They have always been on the focus of radical Sunni groups. This society obviously defines themselves as a draft within the Islam. The main resource is the first Imam Ali, Ahlul Bayt and the 12 Imams. The information relaying from these people is transmitted by Muhammed b. Nusayr, who is the person given his name to the community (Nusayr; Z.A.) at times. . After him,  the information was systematized more by el-Huseyn b. Hamdân el-Hasîbî and a community that has a collective mission was built. In short, we are making mention of a community that has been come down by Hasibi.

According to the belief, Prophet Mohammed (in the year of AD 632) declared that Ali bin Ebu Talib succeed his place in Gader Humm (p. 25). The segregation starts from this point. By 11th century, it is accepted that the mission of following the Ahlul Bayt path and disseminating the information was passed on from the closest follower of Imam Hasan el Askerî’s, namely Mohammed b. Nusayr and afterwards Mohammed b. Cundub, and then Abdollah b. Mohammad el-Cennân el Cunbulânî, and then el-Huseyn b. Hamdân el-Hasîbî, and then Mohammed d. ‘Alî el-Cillî, and then Seyyid ‘Alî el Cisrî and the latest ebû Sa’îd el-Meymûn b. Kâsım et-Tabarânî (p. 29). The prevalent consensus of opinion is that the actual founder of the community is el-Hasîbi (p. 30). What can you say about the transmission of this knowledge?

Thanks for summarizing. The Arab Alevi population is connected to Gadir Humm. Still their spiritual days and their most biggest fiests is the Gadir Humm fiest celebrated on the 18th of Zilhicce[1].  Here the prophet Abū l-Qāsim Muhammad ibn ʿAbdallāh ibn ʿAbd al-Muttalib ibn Hāschim ibn ʿAbd Manāf al-Quraschī, has anounced his follow-up through Imam ʿAlī ibn Abī Tālib. This was the time when the prophet returned from his pilgrimage from Mekka and talked to the folks who were beside him: “From I am the maker Ali is his maker; My Allah told me to be friend of the ones who are friends of Ali, and enemy of the ones who are his enemy”. The prophet chosed Ali as his follow-up. But after his deatch many people forgot those words and startet rivalry for leadership. The rights of Ali and his secondary growth got infringed in their rights. You all the children of Imam Ali got killed beside of the last Imam Mahdi. As you mentioned Muhammed b. Nusayr is the scholar of the 11th Imam Hasan el-Askeri and he was the one who had the mission to transmit the teachings about the Ahl-ul beyt and the knowledge and experiences of the Imams. Hasibi gave this informations more structure and enabled the establishment of a population. But here I want to underline that Hasibi enlaunches the formation of a population, but he is not a religious leader. Ebû Sa’îd el-Meymûn ibn Kâsım et-Tabarânî is accepted as the main founder of the Arap Alevism within the whol population. Tabarânî is the last sheikh he is an author and foreign researchers have been very interested in this person. For example, the famous orientalist Masignon says that there are 17 works of Tabarani existing. Some academics have been working on the book el marif. They say that Tabarani has been a very important author.[2] […] So he is a religious leader, an author, a belletrist. These persons have deep, mystic and sufistic know how. Emir Hasan el-Mekzun es-Sincari is a very important Alevi Emir as well. He is a historical religious and military leader of the Arap Alevi population. Some scientificial researches about him are existing. […] So we can understand: Those characters have been in the owner of very deep, sufistic and accumulated know that which they many times also projected into their poetric works. If I am not mistaken, the big Syrian poet Adonis[3] in one of his speeches said that Sincari is one of the first representer of the Arap literature.

Being aware of the assimilation and annihilation politics that these people are exposed, what is the current direction of the transmission of this knowledge to new generation?

Like all the other Alevi groups also the Arap Alevis did experience different massacres, oppression and elimination operations. The historical references show them very clearly.  All the Alevis remember (emotional heritage; Z.A.) massacres realised under the rulership of Yavuz Sultan Selim and this is a very important issue in the collectif memory of the Arap Alevis too. Even today the Arap Alevi children got thought their historical enemies and friends very clearly. From here on they find their standpoints in the world and establish their world with symbolics and reason their existance. Of course this educations needs to be based on justice. So this education goes through a very hard journey. Alevism is a very difficult journey. So if someone decides to go through this journey then this person need to go through a very disciplined education. This is clear. Doing so this education needs to be given by persons, who have that particular know how and accompany the travellors. In this education the names of the responsible names for the massacres, who enabled the juridicial conditions to make those massacres happen are thought too. So a colectif memory has been created. Yavuz Sultan Selim is one of those responsibles and Ahmet b. Teymiyye[4] the other. While looking to the Alevi history the Alevis went through incredible massacres. Nevertheless the Arap Alevis have managed to keep their know how.  Eventhough the number of the literate ones have been small the population has managed to keep that resources in written forms. The written resources of their religious leaders, their sheikhs[5] and the letters of them to each other […] have been archived very carefully by the members of the population. And this know how can never be made transparent. Even I did not use all the know how I have found or I own within my doctoral thesis nor in other of my works. We have to accept that this population does not accept to present all of its know how in the public. There are many preachers existing who own deep and important know how but they do not make it public. The truth can only make open itself to the ones who earn it, and it never open it in the public. The ones who are aware of the importance of that truth never make it public too and protect it. I […] did not share all of my know how I have. I do not understand people who make everything transparent they discover. At the end of the day the existance of that population is on risk. And some people did not kept aware about that factor and made some very “private” information public “as if they have had discover a very special issue”.

Especially in the European diaspora, the discussions about “reforming” or “redefining” Alevism remain on the agenda. However, relaying Alevism that is interwoven with nature apart from the holy places to next generation is facing with some challenges. In simplest terms, it is almost impossible to experience the “Visiting” culture in metropolitans. What are your opinions about this?

About the transmission of the know how, we face important pedagogical challenges.  Further I think that the question regarding “re-construction” needs a more sensible handling. For example with the last declaration a new Alevism wants to bey established. Some try to explain an “Alevism without Ali” where I have to keep a strong distance […]. So researches about Alevism which have been made independently from sosyolojik researches are very suspicious to me.  These are challenges of the modern times, being in distance to the holy centres, etc. About the question how the know how can be transmitted in the diaspora I agree with you. For example, in Europe and above all in Germany I have visited some Arap Alevi associations. And there I have seen that the rituals, the cultures and practices are exercised quite close to the ways like in Turkey. Because here a traditional transmitting centre is existing eventhough the assimilation processes are so strong. This transmission sistem has been kept over hundreds of years. An Arap Alevi child gets delegated to an “uncle” (“Emmi Seydi” the religious transmitter; Z.A.) who transmits the know how. This delegation goes through many levels and procedures. The scholar needs to mature in this path (journey). This is a structured construction. In Argentinia I have met some Alevi leaders. Now, some of you will ask if there are Alevis existing in Latin America? Yes, Syria and Lebanon rooted Alevis do live there. They talk in their first languages and they practice their religious rituals. So where ever you go in the world, if you have a systematic education and structured transmission system you will survive. Those traditional education practices cannot be despised even in the modern world. Maybe the traditional forms in synthesis with the possibilities of the modern times; to influence the power that has survived in the past and still exists today with the progressive dynamics might and should be one important issue in the continuing process for the Alevi populations. 

I would like to elaborate on the topics of Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy. In one of his studies, Markus Dressler mentions the fact that Heterodoxy is pushed out of Orthodoxy and there is the exposed and underestimated idea of Orthodoxy as the criteria (Dressler 2015). There are different perspectives within Shiite denomination and you are directly making the following statement in the beginning of your book: “Heterodoxy, which is named as “Esoterism” in Islam geography, leans on the spiritual, inner knowledge that is placed beyond the visible meaning world. Esoterics had the opportunity to produce different interpretations of Islam that are against those holding the power as this was required due to their existential conditions. Esoteric communities such as Ishmaellis, Kermâtis, Durzîs, Alevis are referred within Heterodox Islamic groups” (p.7). 

In resources there is a discussion about the relation of heterodoxy and orthodoxy. People who do researches abot Alevism and they reject using these definitions. I use these definitions but with Orthodoxy I mean the hegemonic perception. So this is the perception, that is in cooperation with the rulership or the religion of the ruling government. And when saying Orthodox Islam the Sunni Islam is understood, because in history they have been ruling the government. The heterodoxy is something that is outside that framework. 

Anatolian Alevis have been seen as “perverts” to be islamised mostly and actually ignored by the centralizing state through Sunni Orthodoxy. What are your opinions about the topic of “perversion”?

In the mainstream literature a hegemonic perception is taken into the center and everything is related to it and discussed by using this relation. So in our case this standard ist the Sunni Islam. But in my book I have highlighted in particular that is not true. And my Prof. Dr. Ayhan Yalçınkaya, who is a very important name in Alevi researches […], talks about “different implementations of Islam” and what I say is, that there is not just one Islam, but Islams are existing. […] And further more, the Qur’an-i Karim also is not one and here I am not talking about suspicious translations of it. In the opinion of the Alevi populations prophet Mohammed says: “I give you the book and I give you the Ahl-ul Beyt”. You cannot read the book independently from the Ahl-ul Beyt. To read it without Ahl-ul Beyt is reading the Quran in a different way. What I mean by using the definition of Heterodoxy is not heresy or keepin Sunni Islam in the center and discuss everything in relation to it. What I mean about heterodoxy is “not having had a govrenemental power”. So I think that the Druze and the Ismaili are also to be seen as heterodox and all together I do count under the umbrella of Alevisms. 

In the beginning of your book in which the historical process is reviewed, it is stated that Nusayris are seen as a radical movement by the Shiite Orthodoxy. Within the framework of proofs, the geneology of Nusayri families dates back to Arabic peoples. On the other hand, the “Heterodox” side of Islam needs to be understood without being underestimated outside of Orthodoxy. (In the beginning of your book, you have translated Esoterism as somewhat Heterodoxy. I think this is open to debate.) However what I wish to ask is: The statements you have used in some pages of the book (p. 312, 315) supported my idea of being under the roof of “Alevis” bears the aim of providing a “protection shield” (taqiyya). Moreover, instead of “annexation” of Hatay by Orthodox Sunni dominant Syria, “Nusayris became an instrument within the expansion of state’s hegemonic space” with the hope of a “secular” and “modern” republic during the republic’s foundation periods (p. 15). Could this be a strategic attitude to be called as “Alevis” being a large community, so as to be protected from the pressures of Sunnis and Shiite at least?  

In literature for example Matti Mossa[6] writes about the “radical Shia/ğulat sekt”. By using “Ğulat” he means exaggerated. As I have tried to explain before, I do not accept that preception, because by using Ğulat you take another perception into the center and everything outside of that just in relation to the center. The Sunni Islam has gained rulership power in the Ottoman, the Ummayyad and the Abbasi periods. The population we are talking about in this interview uses the self-definition of Alevi. So I don’t think that there is any use of “takkiye” (concealment; Z.A.).  Hasibi has got many books and he is the leader of the Arap Alevis. There are also many researches of non Arap Alevi academicians[7] and they are fascinated by Hasibi. The sources of Hasibi are from the 10th century and imagine at that time he used the name “Alevi”. There is no aim to look for a shelter under a big umbrella “Alevi”.

The question of Erdoğan Aydın which is “What to do with Alevism?” (2010) has been interesting, and I would like to ask this question following the attempts of Alevism “to be recognized as religion” which is on the agenda in European diaspora: Generally there has been some discussions about Alevism as either within-Islam or out-of-Islam. These discussions have resulted in a current separation especially in European diaspora: “Islam(ic) Alevis” within society and “Syncretic Alevis” that are bound to the confederation. One group follows the news from the perspective of institutionalization since the moment when Alevism started to identify itself and how can this happen? Could this happen under the roof of Islam or through the reconfiguration of Islam? I think you agree with this comment in your book, please correct me if I am wrong – or do you think coming together under the roof of Alevism and placing different movements could result in a more appropriate institutionalization? It might be better to respond to this question while considering generally the current conditions of these two groups. What are your thoughts about this discussion?

What you are talking about is the argumentation of the Sunni Islam. So talking or positioning outside of this perception doesn’t makes you non-Muslim.  Even in between the Sunni Islam members this is discussed. For example the terms of islam is a Ummayad version of Islam interpretation. İhsan Eliaçık[8]  says: “These are perceptions the Ummayads use to clear themselves o charge”. The Alevis did not start to know each other nowadays. The Kurdish and Zazaki talking Alevis and the Arap Alevis do know eachother. The Arap Alevis do not talk about their theology in the public but they have intensive relations.

Arap Alevis are socially not isolated from the outside world. They also have som things that can be seen to the outside world like their holy places (ziyaretler), which are on the tops of mountains, in the forest or beside of rivers. Some of this holy places are in Adana and Antiochia too and people of different religious beliefs visit them and practice their rituals. But in general some informations are secret and are in no way allowed to communicate.

The question about Islam or non-Islam or defining the Alevism is a discussion that is centered in the European Diaspora. When saying Islam the Sunni Islam is the first thing that comes to the minds and this is a historical burden. The Alevis have experienced this form of Islam always in connection with massacre, oppression and assimilation. For the Alevis the Sunni Islam coinsided with Islam and is synonymous at all. They say “we are different”, “we have our Cem” and “we have our Quran with strings” etc.  And by saying all of them they always refer to this Sunni Islam they want to keep distance in. So here we see the “Quran with strings” in another preception of the holy book. As some argue I do not think that the use of the 12 Imams within the Alevi populations is a symbolical issue. Again Ayhan Yalçınkaya wrote a very long critical feedback about the declaration and in my opinion he pretty good summraizes the whole frame there. I agree with hin by asing “let’s leave Ali, Fatme, Ahl-ul Beyt, Abu Turabı, Haydar-ı Kerrar-ı, Şah-ı Merdan, Esadullah’ı, Hayber Fort, Karbala, Muharrem, the Ascension, and the lion who jams the path, the Cemi of the 40ies, the 12 İmams, İmam Bakır, Zeynel Abidin, Cafer-i Sadık. Let’s pull all of them out of Alevism. But what remains then? For some Shah Ismail tried to assimilate the Alevis to Shia Islam. And what about the Grand Poets (Ulu Ozanlar; Z.A.). What remains? And let’s do the same with Pir Sultan’a – if you don’t say Pir Silvanus to him cause I do not – what remains then?  These are the common values of the Alevi populations. The persons who transmitted our belief […] did know many languages. They travelled around in the region and interconnected witheachother. They travelled in Iraq, in Iran, in Syria and they spoke Persian, Arabic, etc. They have become scholars and students. We understand that in their sources they left back. They have seen the invisible (bâtın) behind of the visible (zâhir), which means that they have seen the essence behind of the covering. And I want to ask, how many people know Arabic, Persian, Kurdish and Zazaki today? So here again it is important to emphasize that the Arap Alevis didn’t detached from their resources. If we look to history we see that the leaders of the Kurdish, Turkish, Zaza and Arap Alevi groups have been in contact to eachother and their enemies knew that. That is why Yavuz Sultan Selim targets Iran first and goes ahead to Syria, Mercidabık’tan to go to Egypt.

Bektashism holds a strong impact on “Anatolian Alevism”. What is the impact and role of Bektashism on Arab Alevism? For instance, according to some authors Hâce Bektaş-ı Veli has been referred as the representative of Islamic mysticism that was appointed in order to “get the nomadic communities living in Anatolia under control” and spreading a “mild” version of Islam among them in order to “restrain” these communities within an emerging Ottoman State. What are your thoughts about this topic?

From the historical point of view I do not have any reference that proves a direct influence of Bektashism to the Arab Alevism. I cannot talk about Bektashism a lot, but I keep distance to these kind of arguments: Bektashism is a “soft interpretation of Islam” while conquering the Balkans. I mean which soft attitudes people can find, when they read the resource Hâce Bektaş-ı Veli left? There we can recognize traces of the bâtın knowledge. This is an information I quote from the research who work on Alevi issues. In some time the Ottomans tried to assimilate Bektashism and put it into ist own structures. And we should be careful by talking about the Ottomans, because they have ruled for 600 years and therefore we cannot talk about one Ottoman, but Ottomans who went through different processes and levels. Earyl times of Yavuz, early times of Kanuni, and after their times is completely different from eachother. We know that the Ottoman did not hestitate to oppress or eliminate the factors, they were not able to deal with. To me Vaka-i Hayriye[9] is a terrible event. They translate it to Turkish with “pleasent event”, but what is pleasent about it? The Marmara sea has been covered with thousands of dead bodies. It is talked about human corpuses instead of leaves on the trees. We know what they did with the Bektashi dervish lodges and cemeteries after they have forbidden the Janissary[10] (Tr. Yeniçeri). From this point many intrigues happen and polarisation of the populations in that geography continued.  

I share the idea of Nira Yuval Davis stated in her book called “Politics of Belonging” that in order for societies to be united within democracy or to construct democracy, initially they need to raise awareness of the dominant identities exposed from outside and at this point they need to embark on the process of segregation in order to be united within these terms (Yuval Davis 2011: 18). By all means we need to accept the fact that Nusayris define themselves as “Arab Alevis” as a right for self-definition (p. 304) and the reality and validity. Moreover, as the elderly population of the society often states, the name “Nusayri” has been used for hundreds of years. As you have stated, historian Reyhani “does not agree with the fact that this name will not be used considering the enemies of Mohammed b. Nusayr denigrating the name” (p. 305). Without forgetting that you have clarified the fact that el- Hasîbî has been the actual pioneering person, this instance reminded me of the fact that Anatolian Alevis have stayed away from the definition of “Kizilbash” in order to protect or hide themselves. However, if we think from the matter of belonging the topics of identity and belonging have been obvious and defined under threatening and scary conditions, and its artificial side has been expressed as a result of this. In other words, at the back of this situation because of the same dominant and Orthodox administration and exposing to the pressures of this administration I believe the economic and political aims match together. It might be better to ask this question: Could we really compare the beliefs of Anatolian Alevis and Arap Alevis even if there might be serious theological drawbacks? For instance Cem, Disposition, Heaven-Hell, Patrol, Rituals, etc. 

(…) You point to some important determinations while asking the question. Thank you for that. Those determinations earn to think about. I can start with the idea, the self-definition as „Alevi“ is not something that happened currently within the Arap Alevi population. I want to underline one more time that some Alevi researchers act as if the definition „Alevi“ is one that exists for centuries. And this is a wrong information. In fact this definition has started to be used since the end oft he 19th and the begin oft he 20th century. Before I talked about that again. Hasibi is a very important reference in that issue…The use of the name of „Nusayri“ to describe the Arap Alevis has been used by early time Shia authors like Nevbahti to cast aspersions and defames to the that population. In the Ottoman archives this population has been named Nusayri in always in connections with very bad stories. Now, the point is, nobody keeps distance to that name because they just want to get rid of it. But they also reject any attempt or denomination that could estrange them from their original sources.  In short the aim is: The main source is clear: Ali; so why shall we go the shine when the original is existing? This is not an attempt to degrade and reject Muhammed b. Nusayr, from whom this population also got ist name, but Nusayr is a historical leader and a respectful person, who represents a statue, but he is not the original source. That is why by pointing to Ali the Alevism is the real estate and to maintain this as like as oppose the reluctance of the decision makers. Now let’s talk about the teological issue. The Arap Alevis own lots of written resources about that so it is OK for me to talk about it. The Alevi religious leaders have published works for the interested publicity. The reincarnation is a basic apprehension of this belief. What is the sense of the „existance“ of mankind in the world? To become „kâmil“ (En. mature, perfect, complete). If we have came to this world then we are not kâmil yet and once we became kâmil we will not be in this world any more. There are levels and a path between these dimensions. So we can talk about a journey. Alevism is a journey, a path and the ones who start this journey and believe to this path are travelers. Anyone who says „I know where this journey goes to“ has passed the limits of him-/herself. Because if someone sees where this journey goes to, this person will not be in this world any more. The human being many times returns to the world according to the layers of good and bad in his or her soul. So this is not like when someone dies, his or her soul then goes to another place and wait in the purgatory to go through the sirat bridge and to finally be sent either to the hell or the paradise. These are very configurative and formal, Sunni Islam interpretations and within the Alevis this kind of ideas do not exist. And within the Arap Alevis never. The human being needs to become complete by developing its soul to the goodness and as far as it manages to reach the level of pure soul its return to this world will be stopped. It the human being develops its soul to badness then he will return to this world in different material shapes and will scale down to the very bad until to live the hell in this world finally. According to the making he/she (the human being) came from a  „Nurânî“ (En. Nur  means light; lighty) identity: Either he or she will return to this Nurânî identity, the world of lights or he or she will be buried into the darkness…In fact you read and listen to lots of reincarnation stories. The issue about reincarnation is important to the Anatolian Alevi populations as well. If you analize the ancient literature you will recognize this: what does it mean „to return in another shape (TR. don)“  and „devri daim olsun“ (EN. his or hers rotation shall be immortal)? We have been snapped off from our ancient historical backgrounds and our belief system due to systematically oppression and assimilation politics. We have difficulties to remember some issues about our belief. And this is not something which is just a special issue within the Arab Alevism. This is not something just inbetween the whole Alevi populations too. The reincarnation is an universal issue. The body dies but the soul, the essence keeps its circle (Tr. döngü). So what did Yunus once say: „If something dies then this ist he body, the essence (Tr. Can) is immortal“ (Tr. Ölür ise ten ölür, canlar ölesi değil.). According to the belief the starting point to this circle in this world is Alevism and the state of İnsan-ı Kâmil. The Arap Alevis do respect all the other beliefs too. Arap Alevis do accept and respect every holy book and all the prophets as their saints too. (…) For example they celebrate the birthday of Jesus Christ, his baptism and his ascension. They have been determined as the „los Christians“ because of their respect to Jesus Christ and Mother Mary, for example during the missionary works during the Ottoman Empire. The idea of paradise and hell as well as the idea of fortune which is existing within the Sunni Islam for example, has no place within the Alevism. The human being exists physically, he or she is a corpus that has got the freedom of decision making. The fortune is not defined and cannot be found somewhere in the sky. Another example: The question of „Do you fast?“ is answered with „Yes“ by the Alevis. The Alevis do not understand to keep famish by eating nothing during the fast. The Alevis do understand to not betray and reveal a secret. That means to be faithful to something which is committed to oneself. And this perception kept for lifetime. If an Alevi is asked wheather he or she performs the namaz, the answer is „Yes, of course“, but he or she doesn’t understands the formal namaz, which is even not written down in the Qur’an itself. One „zâhir“ is existing, which is the cover and one „cevher“ is existing which is the core. Any time we manage to go through over the zâhir, which can be seen from everybody, we can possibly see the cevher, which is inside of the zâhir. This cevher does not shot itself anytime and everytime. So this answer for your question got very long. I want to make it short know and maybe try to come to and end for this part: There are many similarities that got form and shape around the issues of Hak (God), Mohammed and Ali, Selman, Ahl-ul Beyt and the Twelve Imams. Above all their experiences about the dominant and decision making ones are similar. Yes, some important differences do exist, like the non-performance oft he Semah and non-use of the Telli Kuran (tembur), which are both used within the Anatolian Alevis. But the sentense „The journey is one and the way to go this journey is thousand“  and if the truth needs to be looked for, then it should be started here first. 

You are providing information in your book a good many and researching the status of Arabic Alevis within the scope of country political conjuncture. You are noting that monist mindset of the republic  is proceeding in a racist paradigm especially in 1930s and Arabic Alevis are otherised from three points and they are also exposed to serious assimilation trials. These three elements: Ethnicity (Arab), language (Arabic), and religion (Nusayri). You are trying to scrutinize that Arabic Alevis’ preferences of political party also changed while Turkification suppression was dominant in the first period, Democratic Party (DP) separated from Republic Public Party (RPP) and it came in sight as a matter of the world condition and the care of DP was admitted by RPP as you say on the basis of the papers and the witnesses you had interviews. Could you explain the reasons and forms of changing these political views according to the conditions to the readers of this interview?

The regions where Arap Alevis live in Turkey are Antioch (Tr. Antakya), Alexandretta (Tr. İskenderun), Adana, Tarsus and Mersin. These are historical places too. We know and this is registrated that in Çukurova (in Adana; Z.A.) the Arab Alevis have been lived for more than one thousand year. The Ḥamdānid Dynasty (10th century in Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Kurdistan) leader Seyfüddevle Ebü’l-Hasan Ali bin Abdullah bin Hamdan has been the scholar of Hamdan el-Hasibi. Different than Adana and Mersin Antioch got annexed to Turkey after Lausanne (Treaty of Lausanne 1924) and the 1930ies. Here (in Antioch; Z.A.) the cultural, religious and ethnic constellations have been saved pretty much, that is why this had to be dissolved (by the early Turkish Republic; Z.A.). Before and after the annexion (Tr. ilhak) some different attempts have been tried to „Turkify“ that region. For example, the CHP (Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi, En. Republican People’s Party; Z.A.) did establish the Hars Committees. In the constitution of these Committees it was written „The original roots of this population is Turkish, but they got Arabised and therefore they talk a language which is not theirs“ (Tr. Aslında öz Türk olan bu topluluğun Araplaştırıldığı ve dolayısıyla kendine ait olmayan bir kimlik verildiği, kendine ait olmayan dili konuştukları). Therefore to „give them some shock and to bring them around again“ to „make them Turkish again“ different projects (seminars, meetings, folders etc.) have been tried. With the idea „To cure with hand and speech of doctors“ (Tr. Tabip eliyle ve diliyle tedavi etmek) doctors get charged to go to the Arab Alevi living spaces and while curing them explain them that they are Turks: „Siz Türksünüz“ (En. Your are Turk) to make them Turk again. I think this was a very colonial attitude. To make it short again: the oppressing power of the state has never been away over this population. And after many years (after the one party dictatorship oft he CHP; Z.A.) another party (Democratic Party, DP; Z.A.) makes new hope for the people. Of course I want to underline the decisions of the elits of the population was a very important determining factor.  

Türkiye’nin ulusallaşma sürecinde, homojen bir ulus “yaratma” kapsamında “kafatası ölçümlerine” ve Arap Alevilerinin aslında “Eti Türk” oldukları iddia edilen çalışmalara ilişkin hangi ayrıntıları vermek istersiniz? Nitekim dönemin siyasi atmosferini, Arap Alevilerine karşı uygulanan asimilasyon yöntemlerine ilişkin örnekleri kitabınızda aktarıyorsunuz…

Which details would you like to give about “the skull measurement” as a part of building a homogeneous nation in the period of nation building of Turkey and for the studies claiming that Arabic Alevis are actually “Hittite Turks”? Furthermore, you are conveying information about political atmosphere of the time and assimilation methods applied on Arabic Alevis in your book.

Afet İnan, who’s Godfather was Atatürk has made  cranium measurements and prepared reports. In those times also in Turkey due to the construction of the nation states this „objective nationalism“ dominated the world. The Language History and Geography Faculty professor Hasan Reşit Tankut has been a member of the national intelligence. He is one of the persons who asserted that the Arab Alevis were „Eti Turks“ and even wrote a book about (1938)[11] that. He argues that ‚the Arab Alevis are Eti Turk and Eti Türk are the Hittite‘! He is contrary of sciences and fictious and tries to make the Arab Alevis to Turks. In the same way he has got some works about the Turkification of the Dersimi Alevis. […] On the one side we talk about a lonesome population (while talking about the Arab Alevi populations; Z.A.). It is a minority group. It’s arms and wings are broken. After the ilhak some enlightened and intellectual parts left Antioch and Alexandretta for Syria. Zekî el-‘Arsûzî[12] is one of those persons. He is from Arsuz in Alexandretta. He made his doctorate in France and has been declared as the spiritual leader of the Baath movement. He is one of the founding leaders of the Baath movement. At the same time he is one oft he National Initiative Associations (Tr. Ulusal Eylem Cemiyeti) and tried to bring together the Arap Alevis under a general Arap identity. Of course the poor Arab Alevis are degraded by the Turks as well as the Arabs. (He has got one anektod: He was teacher at the Antioch Secondary school and one day the French intelligentia attends the lesson and he says: „What did I do wrongly? I just teach the contents I have learnt in France.“ He gets forbidden to teach any more. They (the intelligentia) responses: „Those ideas are valid in France and not for the colonies“…Afterwards he recognizes that some teachers force Alevi children to write “Alevis are animals with two feet“  on the black boards. And his makes him very sad.)

Süleyman el-İsa is an important poet in the Arab world and he leaves Antioch after the ilhak too. The ones who kept living in Antioch are the ones who had some wealth. Some of them even developed good relationships with the government and got more rich. The rest of the population is very poor. One part of that population were farmers and had big hope about ‚laicism‘ and ‚modernity‘ from the new republic. Due to this hope they have been tried to be part of the system with carrot and stick. And they for sure get influenced by the politics in that frame. They lose the most improtant characteristics of their identity. Some leaders of the population argue „We can leave Arabness but never we would leave Aleviness“, but when the language (Arabic; Z.A.) is forgotten then the transmission of the ancient contents of that belief get lost and superficial memorization keeps left.

You are reporting that Arabic Alevis’ making a choice between RPP and DP differs from generation to generation (p.277). However, could you explain briefly always loyalty to RPP and the situations of canalising to the different parties from time to time? You state what you mean clearly in your book but here could you remark it once again? For instance, what could you say about the allegations that Alevi society is in a position experiencing “Stockholm Syndrome“ caused by external exposition?

After experiencing these oppressions during the one party system, the orientation to the Democratic Pary (DP) with the change to multi-parti system was not just the attitude of the Arab Alevi but the whole Alevi population. Also in the times after an orientation to the central left parties can be recognized. But we cannot say that there is a general  adoration to the CHP. This situation cannot be found within any Alevi group. But there is one important issue: The danger about radical Sunnism or the Turkish-(Sunni; Z.A.)Islam Synthesis, makes them all move to CHP again. The same has happende during the 1970ies with „Karaoglan“ and the rise up of the political left wing parties.[13] I can say that the Alevis run to the darf cave of the CHP when they feel forced to it. And this is not to compare with „ Being in love with ones executioner“. This cannot be explained with the „Stockhol Sendrome“. I think that this external aspirations about the Alevi populations are offending. There are some who accept thos external aspirations. But in fact this attitude of the Alevis have got their historical and sosyological basics. One needs to try to understand that and I think this is what is difficult.

You gave a place the impact of Turkish Left, that is, until 1950, 1960, 1970 and 1980s towards the end of your book. You state clearly that 1971 Alevis Massacre (Hatay) is a trial for subsequent Alevis massacres. This trial could not work out. Could you explain briefly the impact of Turkish Left behind this trial? I also ask you to give a place what negative influences of Turkish Left to Arabic Alevis are?

Sometimes I think that the criticism is not fair, but there is a rational basis which makes these critics possible too. The vision at those times, the ideologies, the Sowjets, China, Enver Hodsha etc. I mean those attitudes are based on these resources. They say that they would be „internationalists“ so there is no need for Arabness, Kurdness, but they argue all of this by thinking in Turkish and talk in Turkish. And this is the irony…Of course a Turkish Left (Tr. Türk-iye Solu) exists. And here the perspective is nationalistic. (In those times ; Z.A.) themes about (national; Z.A) identity were not discussed. That is why I do not want to do wrong with my arguments. In general while the fathers and mothers of the Alevis have been followers oft he CHP in the 1970ies, their children became mor radical and progressive. In past I did some interviews with some local leaders of those movements and they say: „We talked in Arabic and made theater. But never we came to the idea to perform in Arabic. Our Arab identity did not mean much value for us. We had no consciousness about that yet“. […] So there is no vision about (national; Z.A.) identity.  One person who has been one of the leaders in those times and till is active member argued self-reflecitve and critisized himself: „We worked to make the Turkish identity stronger“. What was important? Build up networks and gain members. And still this attitude harms (the Alevi associations; Z.A.). We see that the pragmatist and narrow visioned organizer stance to aim to convert Alevis to progressive leftists and try to gain members there does have negative effects on the Alevi associations. […] In 2011 we joined and Alevi demonstration and for the first time we used Arabic for the banners and our slogans. Even the other Alevi groups were surprised.[14] When there is the use of Arabic even within the leftists something happens: Arabic gets directly connected to the Qur’an. If we talk about the sins of the Leftists, in the early past we saw some effects within the Alevi youth fractions. Some pragmatic groups tried to gain some space within the Alevi youth and did cause negative influence. This caused separations. […] I want to add one more issue, the left finds big support within the Alevi population and regions and here it keeps a strong organisational basis. They do not invest into the Aleviness of the Alevis, but they reason the survival of the Alevis: The attempts of massacre and provocation face resistance by the leftists. In 1978 in Antioch the existence of the leftists (within the Alevi population; Z.A.) is an important reason for blocking up the massacre attempts of the government…

What do you think about today’s politics? For example, the position of Alevis living in Syria and a general, short and outside sense about the events happening, that is, what would you like to say about the allegations that the state an Alevi family governed massacred?

This is a very important issue and unfortunately is not discussed by the ones who are addressed to in reality. Anyway when Syria shall be discussed we see that the mainstream media in the whole world acts against the truth and shares wrong information. […] I do not define the happenings in Syria as a „civil war“, because the happenings there handle from a proxy war. Despite all the faults and sins Syria did, Syria has been a resistant power in the Middle East and the international actors focus the plan to destroy it. We saw which barbary actions represents of the (radical; Z.A.) Sunni-Islam, Wahabi, and terrible perceptions  from over than 80 different countries  did perform. And nowadays more or less they sunk and lost power. But within the rows of the left there are some circles who still do not dare to talk the truth about Syria. For an important part they did not understand Syria well and even for this fault they are not able to practice self-criticism. In the first years (of the war; Z.A.) together with some friends I tried to explore this issue in different platforms and also Alevi associations.[15] We tried to follow the war in Syria through direct connections from the region. One perception has been developed and this was not new. The important enemy of Syrian rejime more over the Syrian populations, the Muslim Brothers used one propaganda during the critical diplomatic time between Syria and Egypt in the 1970ies: „Syria is an Alevi state“, „In Syria the Alevi minority oppresses, dictates, dominates, discriminates the Sunni majority“. They said that the Syrian military and the intelligence has been ruled by the Alevis. Yes […] family Esad has represented the Presidency for many years. It is an Alevi family. There are Alevi members of the regime. Also in the military. But the question is: What is more natural than this? […] If the president or the head of the military department or the chief of police is an Alevi they say it handels about an „Alevi rejime“. But according to political sciences this is a non-scientifical perception. […] This attitude has got an ideological background an is never a scientific explanation! Look, if Syria had been an Alevi state then the Alevis would have had an official and recognized status. But the Alevis do not have any status. Syria has got a a similar and in ministry status organized religious presidency (like in Turkey; Z.A.) and this is lead by a Sunni dominance. The Sunni chief Mufti is very important. No Alevi religious leader or the Ismailis do not have this kind of primacy in Syria. In Syria Alevism is not thought in schools. This is not the case. And even now you cannot proof that there happened Alevi massacres by unusing official resources in Syria. The rejime in particular abstains to use the name „Alevi“. Because the degradation because of the Alevi being has a history for many years and the Alevis refuse to be related with its Alevi identity.    

There is direct information about the massacres of Arabic Alevis from the locals. These massacres hadn’t been in the news not just in Turkey but also in the world. So, world public opinion couldn’t hear about these events. Could you share your knowledge about massacres of Alevis in Syria? What was the manner of Alevi organizations?

Since 2011 15 Alevi massacres have been realised. Thousands of Alevis died. Some of them took their weapons and joined the war. I want to quote my journalist friend Hasan Sivri. Seventy thousand Alevis have been died in the war. They fought against this barbarian tide not just in military but also in the rows of national resistance groups established by civilians. The Druse, the Assyrians,  the Ismaili and Armenians joined this establishments. The populations gathered together to resist those barbars. Syria has got an important Sunni draft, which is agains progressive and secular structures. It is not the Muslim Brothers that dominate everywhere. Together with some progressive groups this resistance has been kept. […] We know that over 2000 Alevi have been killed in their villages, that have been invaded and bombed. […]  Suicide blasts happened. In Humus, El Zahra (and el Nuzha) are the settlements with the most Alevi inhabitants and they have been attacked many times.[16] In Ikrime (Ikrime massacre) one elementary school got bombed and kids have been killed.[17]  By an approximate guess I can say that massacres, attacks, deprivations and bomb attacks around ten thousand Alevi civilian have been killed during this war. I point to the Alevis, because our topic for this interview handles about the Alevis. But not just the Alevis, but also the Kurds, Armenians, Assyrians, Christians and Sunnis, in short in Syria members of all groups have been killed… In the official expression of Syria a sencence like „An Alevi village got attacked“ has been never used. In Syria there is never an Alevi state nor an Alevi regime. A secular structure, that keeps some Baas based principals exists. And some religious priorities exist, which is not conform with secularism, but this too is in favor of the Sunni part of the population. […] There is no point to characterize this rejime as Alevi, who do not enjoy a privilege.  In general some Alevi enemies and the ones who aim to harm the Syrian regime use these perceptions. And also within the Alevi who liked that idea say „Syria is an Alevi government“ – and we can understand that (emotionally; Z.A.). The psychology of human being and minority existance looks for strong center of power, a strong backing, at least an interior power, a big narration etc. but it (an Alevi state) does not exist. We talk about 15 massacres. All this islamic drafts, the Wahabis, the Salafis cooperated and realised these attacks. A very important Alevi Sheikh Sheikh Bedir Gazal has been tortured and cut by his neck.[18] The (Alevi; Z.A.) youth wanted to rescue him, but he said: „I would make you slower. I have to tell something to them.“ He has one letter. […] In his last will he says: „Do not dare ot take revenge by using religion. Do not dare to swear upon over their spiritual objects like they do with ours.“ Because he knew that the aim has been to provocate an Alevi-Sunni conflict. And to obey this he writes that last will. They kidnapped girls of 9 years old. […] We can guess what they did to them and where they sold them. There are some cases I directly know. For example one little girl has been rescued. They (the radical  gangs; Z.A.) thought that she was dead. I know her nurse. They have brought her to Antioch. The girl gets cured. Those barbars get informed that this girl has been from Lazkiye. Those militants, cihadists again get in quest of that girl. With some cars in companion this girl has been brought to the border and transferred to her uncle. A terrible idea like this is attacking a country and the Alevi population in Turkey do not show the necessary attitude against the massacres there. I have joined one press release about „Alevis get massacred!“ (Tr. Alevi Soykırımı yapılıyor!) was organized by the Kilikya Nehir Association.[19] But they were not able to establish a strong movement. Maybe we experience one more big time period of the Alevi massacres and are not able to realise that yet.

I would like to ask you a question that we mention in this interview many times: What do you want to say for the situation and existence of Kurdish in Syria? For example, it is claimed that it wasn’t allowed Kurdish to have an  identity. Is that true? If it isn’t, what is the reality?

First of all I want to underline that I think one should support the freedom movement of the oppressed Kurdish population and respect the Kurdish will. Unfortunately the Kurds experience different discriminations in the countries they live. I think that Turkey is the leader in that case. Still I am tried in the Mersin High Criminal Court, because I critisized the cruelity against the Kurds. Now lets talk about your question; Also here I see that a perception is visible. Firstly, this is a failed information. Secondly, one should remember this politics of Syria: In Syria there live some populations which migrated later and are not settled ones. The Syrian government kept pertinacious by not giving them the Syrian citizenship. When we look to the Kurdish issue, we recognize one special  decree: decree Nr. 62 (Tr. 62 kararnamesi)[20]. With this decree the regions, where Kurds lived the most, like Cezire got population census. Those regions have pulled many migrants . For example,  after the Sheikh Said riot (1925; Z.A.) and after that from Turkey lots of Kurds came to Syria… Finally, due to this census more than hundred thousand Kurds did not get an ID card, because they have been counted as migrants and not settlers. In 1962, which is an important year, the Kurds that migrated or seen as migrants lost the right to have an ID card. The government made a difference between Kurds which were settled and Kurds which were migrants. The settled Kurds in Syria do have ID cards. Also the Palestinians do not have any ID card. Imagine, hundreds of thousands Palestinians, and even Araps born and grown up there do not have the right to get an ID card. The same for the Arabs which came from Iraq… Syria has got this politics, but I do not say that I welcome this and think that this is a right praxis. The ID issue has been questiones in 2011 and on the judicial level some solution attempts have been taken.[21] Syria is an authoritarian regime, Arab nationalist and has got many faults against identities. What I want to underline and focus to is that Syria is a anti-imperialist resistant center at the same time. And Syria supported the Palestinian resistance pretty much and has been a harbor for many oppositional and progressive groups of some countries through history.  In the 1970ies and the military coup d’etat in 1980 lots of leftists went to Syria, because it was safe. While all the people said „Dictator!“ and sweared when Hafız Esad died, the Kurdish media channel Serxwebun […] declared how progressive Esad has been and launched its condolence. The Kurdish movement has been there for a long time (until the arrest of PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan; Z.A.). […] After Esad died […] Mihri Belli wrote an article and said „We went there (to Syria; Z.A.) when fashism came to Turkey. There we have found a chance to exist. They have opened their doors for us“. […] In the end of the 1970ies the Alevi massacres happened in Turkey but in Antioch this attempts ran blank. The organized leftists groups, the high population of the Aleivs and some discrepances within the government itself have effected this failor. But in my opinion there has been a spiritual power too: For example when I talked to some persons who have been leaders of leftist groups in those times talked about this common assumption that Esad should have said: „I would never allow that my children get victims of such a thing. Do not worry!“

You touch briefly the idea of “pluralistic democracy” in the end of your book. Could you give a further explanation? What do you mean exactly? Especially, what do you want to say exactly if we look from the viewpoint of Arabic Alevis?

Due to my formation I am public law expert. Above all in the constitutional law the „Pluralistic democracy“ has got an important place as a trusted democracy model. […] We very often discuss the difference between the pluralistic democracy  and majority democracy with our pupils. The majority democracy is something very typical in Turkey. […] The general perception is, that the one who gains the majority becomes the representance of the will power. After an election the party […] who gains the most votes gets dominant and is accepted as the truth. But the pluralistic democracy is kind of a rainbow for me. Here each color is valued and no one has got a priority over another. […] I am talking about a construction where any identity, ideology, thought, opinion can alltogether live in a common space, where no one has a dominance over the other, and no ona aims to eliminate the other, where everyone can exist with its own opinion, belief in freedom while being able to keep, organize its own existance like one likes to. […] I am talking about a construction where one cannot go to the viola and shout „You have to smell like a rose!“ or where you cannot go to a sparrow and shout: „You have to sing like a nightingale!“. I am talking about a construction which is completely diametral to that one. 

What are your suggestions for the Alevi organizations on developing such a sense of democracy?

For the Alevi associations I can suggest to not retire into themselve. […] To make a multi-identity based cultural construction they have to establish their own organizational levels. […] By doing this it a big handicap to retire into oneselve. They should try to prevent this. A population that has experienced so many cruelity and oppression cannot be able to ignore other identities. This population cannot have the perspective the dominant decision makers have. But the Turkish official ideology has managed this. The Arap Alevis who have experiences oppression and assimilation are poisoned by this state ideology when taking position to the Kurdish issue, where Kurds have experienced those assimilation and oppression multiple. We can observe that an irritation against the Kurdish population is existing within the Alevi population. But in fact Alevism does not accept that. Alevi groups need to be in solidarity with any group that experiences oppression, discrimination and cruelity. Common solidarity and construction of the future together and relations for establishing this must be initiated. They need to avoid becoming ghetto when aiming to protect and keep their existance. First of all they need to start to quit with the state dominated and official ideological framed perspective to Armenians, Kurds, Arabs, Assyrians, Chaldeans, homosexuals etc. […]

Now, you are the one of the academics who had to leave Turkey and have to live in diaspora. I demand you to mention your experience and want to learn about your future expectations?

I have also signatured the declaration which the „Academicians for Peace“ have prepared. We said „We will not be part of this crime!“. After the government did not wait long to show its violence and ordered the arrest of some of our collegues. Some were fired from their jobs and some got new contracts. And I was fired in March 2017 from the University of Mersin. 20 more people beside of me got fired from this University. […] Lots of Academicians for Peace got many problems. After I lost my job it was not possible to me to keep on living in Turkey any more. They (the government; Z.A.) has prepared a „black list“. I did an application for stipendium. Now I am visiting lector at a German University. After one month I came to Germany Mersin University again quitted my job. Our pasports got cancelled and I am stuck here. I do not know what is going to happen next. […] In Germany around 100 collegues of mine are in the same situation like me and we have found and association. […] (In Turkey; Z.A.) a very dark process is going through. The Turkish-(Sunni; Z.A.)Islam synthesis which was established in the 1970ies and got the official state doctrine in the 1980ies completely caught its place in the political agenda. […] This synthesis does revise itself in time and it has reached a higher level and now we face a dicta regime.  […] The situation has been bad in the past and now it is worse than bad. […] It is difficult to make some prognosis fort he future, but this regime is going to lost ist validity more and more (…) and in the international level it has lost its image. […] In the case of Syria (Turkey; Z.A.) is a government that has been part in international crime and it need to render account. And to avoid rendering account it will become more and more authoritarian to keep its regime power. […]I do not think that the content of this regime will change in short maturity.

I want to ask a question because of my study field and I think it will raise a question mark in minds for people who will read your book: Why does your study only include men? I ask this question thinking Alevis’ women roles and status especially in Alevis society?

[…] I have interviewed women too, but yes, I have to accept that the number of male interviewees was higher…This book is based on my doctoral thesis and according the interviewees we made three categories, that means three generations: early republic times, middle generations born in the years between 1950 and 1980ies and present times. The women, who belonged to the first category we have talked to are very old and poor farmers. They really do not remember much and were not able to transmit anything. […] Maybe I was too weak in finding women interviewees. So this shall be my self-criticism. I should have invest more efforts in that issue. At the end of the day I see that we too have acted from a patriarchal perspective.  […] But this is also an issue about the situation that unfortunately males dominate the political arena. […] It is an general perception that the „Alevis treat men and women equal“  and this is something which as a man discomfits me too. Because in the praxis and societal level this is really not the case. Of course the Alevi women, her freedom is in better condition in comparison to the Sunni population and the average situation in Turkey. But still Alevi women are not equal! And where does this get visible? On the most uncolored way in daily life of course. When you go to a meeting you realise that all the men are there and the women at home. She is charged with the domestic works, the kids etc. […] The theological ideas are in no way practiced in real life. If I could focus on the Arab Alevis, I would have two issues to analyze this question: First on the theological level and secondly on the societal level…In theology it is very difficult to make some determinations. The religious responsibilities of women is very little in comparison to the men. Of course they are not completely excluded from religious life. I think in relation to the men this is an issue to enable women the chance for more freedom … The women are not completely exempt from religious obligations, but they do not go the process the men go, who joined the path in younger years. Above all the mother has got an important role in the education oft he children. She ist he main pillar to transmit culture, religion and language. The role of the women to make all the preparations in fiests and special days is essential. If we go further to the past, we will realise that for example some entries of the protestant missionars notice the particular, important and effective role of Alevi women in the 19th century. It is written that in some conflicts the women go first and swear to the enemies before their men start the fight. This is very curious…isn’t it?

Last, what are your objects for the researches you have done as a researcher belonging to Arab Alevi?

What was my aim by writing my doctoral thesis? I have been born and grew-up in this society. Despite all the cruelity they have experienced, they never forgot to laugh. Somehow they have managed to survive. When we went to school we experienced discrimination and at least our identity has been ignored. […] This population has suffered prejudices and lies, which were not the truth. My only aim was to find and tell the truth. I wanted to understand the truth and try to make note of it with a scientifical work. Many people tried to induce me. […] They said I would cause troubles by doing that. And yes, now I am in trouble and I am happy about that.  A jury, where also Mithat Sancar[22] and Mehmet Ali Ağaoğulları[23] wer part of,  did examine my thesis. It got published and there is a big interest for it. […] People are interested in this book and this makes me happy. That means, that if you come in contact with the truth, this truth finds human beings who are able to see it too. […]


Hakan Mertcan graduated from Ankara University in 2001 and received his doctorate there in 2013. After working as an associate professor at Mersin University for three years, he became one of the signatories of the declaration „We will not be part of this crime!“ – a campaign initiated because of growing political and administrative pressure under the AKP-government of president Erdoğan, by Academics of Peace in March 2017. Thereafter Mertcan had to immigrate to Germany and continued his studies at the Hamburg University of Bucerius, Faculty of Law between 2017 and 2020. Since April 2020 Hakan Mertcan continues his academic work at the Department of Religious Studies at Bayreuth University.


[1] Fibhaber (30.08.2017): Kurban bayramının içinde olduğu aya zilhicce ayı denir, hicri-kamerî ayların 12’ncisidir. Her senenin Kurban Bayramından önceki ilk dokuz günü ve Kurban bayramı günü olmak üzere tam „on gün“ „leyâli-i aşere“ yani on mübarek gecedir. Onuncu gün Kurban Bayramı’nın ilk günüdür. Bkz. www.fibhaber.comhttp://www.fibhaber.com/gundem/zilhicce-ayi-nedir-h74401.html [19.06.2018].

[2] Meir M. Bar-Asher ve Aryeh Kofsky (2005): “Dogma and Ritual in Kitâb Al-Ma„ârif By The Nuṣayri Theologian Abû Sa„îd Maymûn B. Al-Qâsim Al-Ṭabarânî (d.426/1034-35)”, Arabica, T. 52, Fasc. 1 (Jan., 2005), s. 43-5.

[3] Ali Ahmed Said Eşber.

[4] Ebu’l-Abbas Takıyyuddîn Ahmed bin Abdülhalîm bin Mecdiddîn bin Abdüsselâm bin Teymiye.

[5] In Arabic, “Big” means “Wisdom”.

[6] Mossa, Matti (1987): Extremist Shiites The Ghulat Sects. New York: Syracuse University Press.

[7] [7] Örn. Yaron Friedman (2001): “al-Husayn ibn Hamdân al-Khasîbî: A Historical Biography of the Founder of the Nusayrî- ‚Alawite Sect”, Studia Ġslamica, No: 93.

[8] Recep İhsan Eliaçık is author, theologician and the founder/inventor of the “Antikapitalist Müslümanlar” (Ent. Anticapitalist Muslims) in 2012. 

[9] The elimination of the Janissary through the Ottoman Sultan Mahmud II. on 16 June 1826. Mahmut II. aimed to establish an army like the ones in Europe, with similar uniforms etc.

[10] See Wikipedia „Janissary“: „The Janissaries (Ottoman Turkish: يڭيچرى‎ yeñiçeri [jeniˈt͡ʃeɾi], meaning „new soldier“) were elite infantry units that formed the Ottoman Sultan’s household troops, bodyguards and the first modern standing army in Europe.“ It was established in the 14th century.

[11] Hasan Reşit Tankut (1938): Nusayriler ve Nusayrilik Hakkında, Ankara: Ulus Basımevi.

[12] Zekî el-‘Arsûzî (1899-1968): Öğretmen, Siyasetçi ve Panarabizmin ilk düşünürü.

[13] Bkz. Massicard, Elise (2007): Türkiye’den Avrupa’ya Alevi Hareketinin Siyasallaşması, çev. A. Berktay, İstanbul: İletişim Yayınları.

[14] Bkz.: Radikal.com.tr (20.03.2011): Mertcan, Hakan: Yekfi! http://www.radikal.com.tr/radikal2/yekfi-1043428/ [18.12.2017].

[15] Bkz.: muliye.org.tr (02ç06ç2015): Suriye Söyleşisi – Bereket Kar ve Hakan Mertcan: http://mulkiye.org.tr/suriye-soylesisi-bereket-kar-ve-hakan-mertcan/ [18.12.2017].

Suriye Sorunu ve Aleviler (12.01.20113): Didim Alevi Bektaşi Kültür Merkezi ve Cemevi 2013 Panel: http://www.didimcemevi.org/?Syf=18&Hbr=473395&/DERNE%C4%9E%C4%B0M%C4%B0Z%C4%B0N-2013-%C3%87ALI%C5%9EMA-PROGRAMI; [18.12.2017].

ayrintidergi.com.tr. Sayı 7. Kasım/Aralık 2014: Barbarlık Yayılırken: Suriye Savaşı ve Güneydeki Aleviler Üzerine Notlar: http://ayrintidergi.com.tr/barbarlik-yayilirken-suriye-savasi-ve-guneydeki-aleviler-uzerine-notlar/ [18.12.2017].

[16] sendika62.org (25.07.2012): Humus: Bir Lübnanlaşma manzarası – Muhammed Salih & Leyla Awwad: http://sendika62.org/2012/07/humus-bir-lubnanlasma-manzarasi-muhammed-salih-leyla-awwad/ [12.12.2017].

[17] evrensel.net (03.10.2017): HDP Humus’taki katliamı kınadı: https://www.evrensel.net/haber/93210/hdp-humustaki-katliami-kinadi [12.12.2017]. Ve: tarsusakdeniz.com (13.05.2016): Suriye’de Alevi Katliamı: http://www.tarsusakdeniz.com/haber-suriyede-alevi-katliami/30551 [12.12.2017].

[18] haber.sol.org.tr (20.08.2013): Alevi şeyhi Bedr Gazal katledildi: http://haber.sol.org.tr/dunyadan/alevi-seyhi-bedr-gazal-katledildi-haberi-78270 [18.12.2017].

[19] CNN Türk.com (26.05.2016): Mersin’de Alevi katliamı protestosu: https://www.cnnturk.com/turkiye/mersinde-alevi-katliami-protestosu [12.12.2017].

[20] Bkz.: Jordi Tejel (2015): Suriye Kürtleri, 1. B., İntifada Yay, İstanbul, 2015, s. 107-110 ve Hür, Ayşe  (26.10.2014):  Selahaddin Eyyubi’nin Çocukları: Suriye Kürtleri. Radikal.org.tr: http://www.radikal.com.tr/yazarlar/ayse-hur/selahaddin-eyyubinin-cocuklari-suriye-kurtleri-1221178/

[21] Bkz.: haber.sol.tr (07.04.2011): Suriye’de Kürtlere yarım asır sonra vatandaşlık hakkı: http://haber.sol.org.tr/dunyadan/suriyede-kurtlere-yarim-asir-sonra-vatandaslik-hakki-haberi-41171 [18.12.2017].

[22] Kamu Hukukçusu, Akademisyen, HDP Milletvekili.

[23] Siyaset Bilimci, Akademisyen.


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