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March 01, 2012

Updated: Prep-Work for a Pogrom in Turkey?

March 2, 2012: This post has been updated. See added information below.

Are would-be murderers marking their targets for an upcoming pogrom in Turkey, a repeat of one that took place in 1978?

That’s a reasonable question to ask in light of a report published today in the Turkish website, Vatan (“Homeland”), which bills itself as the “Internets fastest rising newspaper (or journal).” The article (translated here) reports that 45 homes in the province of Adiyaman have been marked with crosses.

The homes all belong to Alevis, an religious community in Turkey that adheres to an offshoot of Shia Islam that is regarded as a syncretic heresy by its Muslim critics.

Why would someone put crosses -- a Christian sign -- on the homes of non-Christians in Turkey?

Another article, this one published by Hurriyet (“Liberty”) Daily News provides some ominous background: “The same method was used to mark the houses of Alevis prior to the Maraş Massacre of 1978, in which 105 people were killed.”

Update March 2, 2012:

Another article, this one published in Today' Zayman, indicates that the graffiti in question was drawn by children. The paper reports:

Following the marking of houses believed to belong to Alevis with red marker pen in the southeastern province of Adıyaman, concern has simmered in the Alevi community after the interior minister late on Thursday said a police investigation into the incident had revealed that children were the instigators.

Interior Minister İdris Naim Şahin stated in remarks to journalists during a visit to the quake-stricken eastern province of Van’s Erciş district that three children had marked not only Alevi houses but also Sunni houses with red markers. He said the children are thought to have randomly selected houses and that three Sunni houses in the same street had also been marked, noting that the height of the marks on the walls indicate they were made by children. He added, however, that the investigation was still under way and that an official explanation for the marks will be made at a later date. He also noted there is nothing to speculate over regarding the various reports in the media.

....

The incident that fueled concern among the Alevis as history has been witness to similar examples of this that led to violence. For example, the recent incident recalled the Maraş incidents, in which hundreds of Alevis were killed in intra-communal clashes in 1978. Houses of Alevis were marked red before the clashes erupted, according to the claims of the families of the victims.

To address people’s fears and uncertainty, many state officials and Alevi group leaders visited the Karapınar neighborhood, where the incident took place.

This article, published yesterday (March 1, 2012) is contradicted however, by a columnist in the same paper, Emre Uslu who reports that similar markings appeared in the province of Hatay which borders on Syria. He suggests that the ultimate responsibility for the marks resides with Bashar Al Assad who is trying to provoke the Alevis into aligning with the Kurds in Turkey. He provides other scenarios as well.

Posted by dvz at March 1, 2012 12:04 PM

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