AVF leader Sarıtaş attacked in Istanbul

Selami Sarıtaş, the head of İstanbul’s Kartal Cemevi and the vice chair of the Federation of Alevi Foundations (AVF), was attacked late yesterday (August 5) in front of his home in İstanbul’s Asian-side district of Kartal.

AVF Chair Haydar Baki Doğan announced the attack in a Facebook post, saying Sarıtaş was attacked by “unidentified people.”

“We wish him a quick recovery and hope the perpetrators will be found as soon as possible,” he wrote.

Mahir Polat, the deputy secretary general of the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality, said he had spoken to Sarıtaş’s family about the attack and would visit them to express support.

MP Serkan Doğan of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) also condemned the attack on Twitter, noting that the attack came during the Alevis’ holy month of Muharram.

On July 30, the first day of Muharram, several cemevis, Alevi places of worship, and Alevi associations in the capital city of Ankara were targeted in back-to-back attacks. Three people were detained after the attacks that left two people injured.

Alevis are a formally unrecognized religious minority in Türkiye who were subjected to atrocities in recent history, most notably the 1978 Maraş Massacre, the 1980 Çorum Massacre, the 1993 Sivas Massacre and the 1996 Gazi Massacre.

Estimates of the Alevis’ share in Türkiye’s population vary between 10 and 20 percent.

Alevi places of worship and homes are still sporadically attacked in various parts of the country, mostly by marking buildings with “X.” In a parliamentary question last year, an MP for the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) noted that 38 similar incidents took place in the country in a decade. (VK)