I am not giving away a book this month because you can freely download a copy of Turkish Alevis Today. Just click on the title and you will be taken to the pdf (Adobe Reader) file. Download and read it at your convenience on your computer or Kindle or Smartphone.
On March 30 thousands of Turks took to the streets in Istanbul to protest what they felt was a miscarriage of justice. Who were they and what was it about?
On July 2, 1993 a group of Turkish Alevi intellectuals (artists, writers, and musicians) were in Sivas, a city in central Turkey, for a cultural festival. Among them was one writer who had translated and published parts of Salmon Rushdie’s Satanice Verses. Hearing of his presence at the festival, a mob of radical Islamists set fire to a hotel killing 37 people. The death toll included tourists, two hotel staff, two people from the mob and many of the Alevis. (Wikipedia)
Many people were arrested and at least 31 were sentenced to life in prison. However, at least four of the defendants, who have been waiting to be charged for 19 years, recently had charges dropped due to the passing of the statute of limitations. (This ruling is being appealed.)
DO YOU KNOW?
Naturally many Alevis were upset and took to the streets. But my guess is that most foreigners do not know much about the Alevis of Turkey. For this reason I think this is a good month to highlight a helpful book on the subject.
What or who is an Alevi/Alevism?
Where in Turkey do they live?
What percentage of the population are Alevis?
How do they practice their faith?
Who are their saints and where are they centered? (Hint: You will find the answer in Cappadocia.)
How do you know if a Turk is an Alevi?
Do you know the answers to these questions?
If not, you should read John Shindeldecker’s booklet, Turkish Alevis Today, which covers these and more questions you may have. This small book (60 pages) is packed with information that will broaden your understanding of an important minority group in Turkey. [John is a friend of mine, and I hope to post an interview with him later in the month.]
If you are interested in finding out more about the Alevis when you visit Cappadocia, you should make a trip to Hacı Bektaş about 45 minutes from Avanos.
Alevi style music is also available. Cem Kervan, a friend of mine living in Bursa, writes and performs his own music. You can see one of his music videos here.
If you are interested in reading more about this, check out these links:
Wikipedia- Sivas Massacre
Hurriyet Daily News
Alevi Protest Court Decision
Protest Story with video
Zaman review of Turkish Alevis Today
Did you know about Alevis before reading this?
For those interested here are other posts reviewing Turkey-related books:
The White Castle by Orhan Pamuk
Crescent and Star by Stephen Kinzer
Ataturk: The Biography of the Founder of Modern Turkey by Andrew Mango
The Ottoman Centuries: The Rise and Fall of the Turkish Empire by Lord Kinross
A Fez of the Heart: Travels around Turkey in Search of a Hat By Jeremy Seal
29 Books Related to Turkey: A Reading List
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