Employees of the TV10 station, which targets Turkey’s Alevi communities as its main audience, were together to protest against a cabinet decree which shut down the news outlet for the 71st time on 10 February.
“TV10 is the voice of Alevis, it cannot be silenced!,” banners carried by the protesters read. The picketers also distributed the traditional dessert lokma to mark the month of fasting for Khidr, an Islamic figure who is also sacred to Alevis.
TV10 program producer Rohat Emekçi said: “The month of Khidr is the universal language of those that have been wronged. Wherever there is someone who has been wronged, Khidr is there. We are in the month of Khidr. Help those who are in difficulty, help us Khidr.”
Another participant, head of the Garip Dede Lodge Pir Celal Fırat recalled that two TV10 executives, Veli Büyükşahin, Haydar Güleç and cameraman Kemal Demir are in prison.
The Alevi faith in Turkey is accepted by some as part of Islam -- albeit a lighter, more secular version of it -- while others argue that it is completely outside Islam. For worship, Alevis do not visit mosques but gather in “cem” ceremonies, which, in urban centers, are held in venues called “cemevi,” which are not recognized by the state. Attempts by Alevi leaders for recognition and Alevi parents to keep their children out of compulsory religion classes in Turkish schools have so far been unsuccessful. There are no exact numbers on the size of Turkey’s Alevi community, but estimates range between 7 to 12 million.