13 October 2010, Wednesday

Sit-down strike regarding compulsory religion classes

The representatives of Alevi organizations in Turkey made a sit down strike upon the call of Pir Sultan Abdal Cultural Association (PSAKD) in Ankara with the demand of removal of compulsory religion classes.

The chairman of PSAKD Fevzi Gumus who spoke at the beginning of the strike blamed the government being hypocrisy about basic rights and  freedoms. The demonstration started with the marching of the group. The group marched to the city center shouting as "Remove the Compulsory Religion Classes", "Annihilate the directorate of religious affairs".

When the group arrived the destination, Fevzi Gumus made a speech claiming that the religious classes were a result of the 1980 coup d'etat and aimed to assimilate Alevi children. "As an active Alevi organization, we launch a decisive struggle against the compulsory religion classes" he said and reminded EU Human Rights Court' decisions against mandatory religion classes. In spite of this fact, he criticized the government's inertia in implementing this decision. He evaluated compulsory religion classes as "human rights violation" and "continuation of Turkish-Islamic synthesis".

Following the speech of Gumus, the activists launched the sit down strike in Sakarya Avenue. Some people whirled semahs during the sit down strike.

The group spended the night at the cold. They tried getting warm by dancing halays and lighting fires. Police didn't permit them to get blankets.


The sit down strike of Alevi organizations didn't create any impression. The response of the government was negative. A state minister Faruk Celik said they don't plan to remove the compulsory religion classes. "The religion classes will be compulsory. But there will be improvements in the curriculum" he said. He made this statements at the same time with the sit down strike launched by Alevi people in Ankara. He blamed Alevi organizations with manipulating the decision of  European Court of Human Rights.

Alevi Women's Association called out all women to struggle against compulsory religion classes regardless of the religious or cultural identity. Head of Alevi Women's Association, Birsen Temir said that "They aim at assimilating our children, especially Alevi children. We call out all women struggling against this assimilation policy. we have to develop an attitude before it's too late."

Ankara - Labour World

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