Employees of the TV10 network, which specficially catered to the interests of the Alevi faith, protested at Istanbul’s Galatasaray Square on 27 January Saturday for the 69th time since September 2016, when their organization was shut down by a State of Emergency decree issued by the Turkish Government.
The protesters carried banners reading “TV10, the voice of Alevis cannot be silenced,” “TV10 is the conscience of Alevis” and “Free press cannot be silenced,” as reported by Sendika.org.
In a press statement she made at the event, TV10 employee Medine Meral said TV10 workers had been voicing the same demand since the first week of their protest: that their news station is opened again.
Saying that TV10 was established as an outlet to allow the members of Turkey’s Alevi communities to meet and interact with each other, Meral said: “TV10 was shut down because it united the past and present of the Alevis who live on this land and because it enable them to know about each other. All the hegemons wanted everyone on this soil to be Sunni and Turkish. There was nothing wrong with being Sunni and Turkish, yet forcing others to be Sunni and Turkish was the problem. That’s what we objected to.”
The Alevi faith in Turkey is accepted by some as part of 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.