Markings on Alevi homes in northwest Turkey spark investigation

The Turkish Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has launched an investigation into markings found on homes of Alevi residents in Turkey’s northwestern city of Yalova, Cumhuriyet newspaper reported on Tuesday.

Local residents informed police that five homes belonging to the religious minority, including a community leader, were spray painted with an "x’’ and the word "Alevi,’’ the newspaper said. 

Turkey’s Alevi community, who make up 20-30 percent of the population, follow a faith that combines Shi’ite, Sufi, and Sunni traditions.

The minority have frequently been targeted in hate crimes, including in İstanbul’s predominantly Alevi Gazi neighbourhood, where in 1995, 22 people died and 155 were injured in a series of armed attacks. 

Spokesman for Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Ömer Çelik on Tuesday labelled the incident a "provocation,’’ and said the investigation was being carried out meticulously.

"Everyone should be at ease. There is no such thing as a second class citizen in the Turkish Republic,’’ Gerçek Gündem website cited Çelik as saying. "Everyone is first class.’’

Last year, Turkey saw multiple incidents of markings on Alevi buildings. Unidentified individuals broke into Istanbul’s Pir Sultan Abdal Cultural Association on Jan. 18 and painted threatening messages on the floors and windows.