Global Politics

Turkey's Allawites

You've probably never heard of Allawites. Allawites prayer services are a mix of introspection and expressions of joy. The only visible nod to Islam is the separation of men and women. Allawites are Shia Muslims who separated from the mainstream of Shiites and Sunnis early in Islam's history and they're always in the minority. Allawites dominate the upper ranks of Syria even though they're only about 10% of the population. Here in Turkey, Allawites make up 20-30% of the population but they have no power at all. This Allawites analyst says even though equality of men is guaranteed in Turkey's constitution, it doesn't turn out that way in practice. Turkey's government funds many religious practices but Allawites aren't considered a religion so the group must fund their own prayer halls, but that's the only obvious discrimination. This Allawite says he's had business deals shut down because of his religion and he thinks it's ludicrous that 25% of the population can't get make any changes and he says Allawites need to organize. This Allawites leader says Allawites in the past have discussed forming a party in the past but have never succeeded in doing so, because Turkey is dominated by Islamic parties on one hand and secularists on the other. The problem is not new but Allawites are incensed with the ruling AK Party because its leaders promised change. This analyst says the irony is that the creator of Turkey set religions against each other while calling for secularism. The Allawites have been emboldened by Turkey's push to join the EU.

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