Turkey Domestic Issues Part II

Equality for Alevis

The Alevis make up an estimated 20% of the total population. They are considered to be a Muslim minority who differ from the Sunnis in key positions. They already experienced exclusion in the Ottoman Empire in the dispute between the Ottoman central power and the nomadic tribes in the east of Central Anatolia, their central settlement area. Since the 1970’s, there has been increased migration to the big cities, where an Alevi middle class has formed, which today includes lawyers, engineers, entrepreneurs and journalists.

Traditionally, they are supporters of the CHP and the moderate left, because Ataturk pushed back the Sunni faith from public life and became state doctrine.

Since the 1980’s they have been making demands for equality of their denominations. The events of 1993, when a congress took place in Sivas in Anatolia, in which a Sunni mob carried out an arson attack and several participants lost their lives, will not be forgotten. Unrest and violent clashes followed.

They are also discriminated against by the state administration. Your religion does not appear in the registration office, nor is it present in the activities of the Sunni religious authority. While the Diyanet appoints and pays the Sunni preachers, mosque rulers and imams, the Alevi religious communities have to pay for them themselves. There are no religious classes for Alevi students, they have to attend classes for Sunnis. A novelty is the fact that the topic of Alevism has been included in Sunni class books since the 2012 school year.

The Armenians

Coming to terms with the Armenian genocide is of major importance for Turkey. It touches on a difficult chapter that began in the early days of the republic. The associated critical examination of one’s own history and a new chapter in historiography is still shaking the foundations of Turkish identity. According to ethnicityology, Erdogan was the first politician to express his condolences to the murdered Armenians, and he vehemently rejects genocide.

At the same time, this issue also has a foreign policy dimension, the normalization of relations with neighboring Armenia.

Reform efforts of the legal system

The legal and institutional foundations of the justice system essentially correspond to the standards required by the EU in the context of the accession debate. The last changes to civil law took place in 2001, and in 2004 the criminal law was thoroughly reformed. It is intended to ensure the legal equality of men and women in marriage. It used to be said: “The head of the marital union is the husband”, “The choice of the marital residence is incumbent on the husband”, “The representative of the marital union is the husband”, “In the event of a disagreement on the question of guardianship, the will of the husband takes precedence to grant ”, so today“ separation of property with share of acquisitions ”is a legal matrimonial property regime. The marriage age has been raised to 17 years for both sexes. Acquittal after rape,

But the creation of a social basis for implementation was not taken into account. There are still judges, public prosecutors and sections of the population who still have the “old thinking” in their heads and who do not support the new spirit of legal reforms.

Efforts to make the judicial apparatus more effective have also had little effect. Complaints about insufficient personnel and material resources and lengthy proceedings can be heard. Political proceedings according to § 301 (denigration of Turkishness) or actions that run counter to the indivisibility of state and nation are often delayed.


In the Ergenekon trial (beginning in June 2007), more than 300 people had been charged by 2011 for allegedly participating in subversive activities and in preparing for a coup. As a paramilitary secret society without a dedicated leadership structure, they are accused of having carried out assassinations and attacks in order to undermine public order, so that the necessary intervention of the military can bring about the overthrow of the AKP. Among the accused were ultra-nationalist-minded representatives of the bureaucracy, the judiciary, high-ranking military officials, professors, journalists, entrepreneurs and members of mafia-like associations. The indictment was 2,500 pages long. More than 200 defendants were given long sentences in 2013 sentenced, but the court overturned in 2016 because evidence was not lawfully obtained.

While the recent Ergenekon activities were directed against the religious ruling party and related organizations – it is assumed – the left in the 1970’s, the Kurds, the PKK and their sympathizers in the 1990’s, were at the center of the criminal attacks. Ergenekon is also suspected of being partly responsible for the murders of three Christian missionaries in Malatya in 2007, the murder of the Armenian journalist Hrant Dink in the same year, and the murder of the Catholic priest in Trabzon in 2006.

The population first became aware of this interplay between crime, politics, justice and the military when a high-ranking police officer and a contract killer were killed in a car accident in Susurluk in 1996. The investigation revealed how members of the network had bomb attacks and assassinations carried out by criminals – with support from the highest levels.

Many saw the reappraisal of the “state within the state” as a symbol for the strengthening of the rule of law, for transparency, a sign that the arbitrariness of politically motivated murders is now being punished. In this sense, liberal circles, including many journalists, welcomed the proceedings. The supporters of the “old” establishment, the CHP opposition and metropolitan intellectuals saw the arrests as a power game to weaken the influence of the military, the judiciary and the CHP and to purposefully eliminate government critics in political circles and in the media.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan