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Cablegate: Turkey: Alevis Determined to End Manadatory

VZCZCXRO0141
PP RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHAK #0537 0800851
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 200851Z MAR 08
FM AMEMBASSY ANKARA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5643
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RHMFISS/EUCOM POLAD VAIHINGEN GE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC//J-3/J-5//
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC
RUEUITH/ODC ANKARA TU//TCH//
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEUITH/TLO ANKARA TU
RUEHAK/TSR ANKARA TU
RUEHAK/USDAO ANKARA TU

C O N F I D E N T I A L ANKARA 000537

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/20/2018
TAGS: KIRF PHUM PREL OSCE TU
SUBJECT: TURKEY: ALEVIS DETERMINED TO END MANADATORY
RELIGION COURSES

REF: A. ANKARA 448
B. ANKARA 513

Classified By: Political Counselor Janice G. Weiner, reasons 1.4 (b),(d
)

1. (C) Summary and comment: Alevi groups are committed to
ensuring the GOT implements the Council of State's
(Danistay's) March 3 ruling allowing students to be excused
from Turkey's mandatory religious courses (ref A). These
groups believe the ruling Justice and Development Party's
(AKP's) criticisms of the decision evince a "selective"
support of democratic principles; they expect AKP to bury the
issue for now because of the enormous attention being devoted
to the AKP closure case (ref B). Alevis will gather on March
22 in Ankara to develop strategies to keep the religious
education issue in the news and on the GOT's agenda. AKP can
show genuine committment to protecting freedoms for all Turks
by moving forward with modern educational reforms that do not
impose a Sunni-centric views on Alevis and non-Muslims. End
summary and comment.

Alevi Groups Say They Won't Be Deterred
---------------------------------------
2. (C) Hussein Gazi Association President Ali Yildirim told
us Turkey's Alevi community is mobilizing to ensure the GOT
implements the Danistay's March 3 ruling to allow students to
opt out of required religious education courses. Yildirim
believes Minister of Education Huseyin Celik showed AKP's
"selective use" of the Constitution when he declared the
document requires all Muslim citizens to take the course.
Yildirim noted also that Turkey had committed to accepting
ECHR precedent as superseding Turkish law, including the
Constitution. Yildirim dismissed Celik's remark that the MOE
had overhauled the content and issued new textbooks while the
cases proceeded, rendering the Danistay and ECHR decisions
moot. Both the ECHR and Danistay had rejected the argument
because the "new" content amounted to a handful of pages
describing Alevism and other religions from a Sunni
standpoint. (Comment: Our cursory analysis of the new books
bears out Yildirim's claim.)

3. (C) Alevis expect AKP to hide behind their closure case as
an excuse not to implement the Danistay and ECHR rulings, and
are therefore determined to keep the issue in the news and on
the GOT's agenda, Yildirim said. Alevi groups will gather on
March 22 at a Pir Sultan Abdul-organized conference to
discuss possible strategies, including filing criminal
complaints against the Minister of Education and Diyanet
President for their recent "discriminatory" remarks, and
organizing Alevi parents to file thousands of cases in
Turkish courts and the ECHR.

Alevis Ambivalent About AKP Closure Case
----------------------------------------
4. (C) Middle East Technology University (METU) professor
Aykan Erdemir is monitoring closely the Alevi community's
reaction to the closure case against AKP. He told us Alevis
thus far are ambivalent toward the closure -- on the one hand
deriving enormous pleasure from this development, on the
other recalling the many closures against their own radical
leftist parties. He expects the heterogeneous Alevi groups
to have a vocal debate on the issue at the upcoming
conference.

Visit Ankara's Classified Web Site at
http://www.intelink.sgov.gov/wiki/Portal:Turk ey

WILSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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