Turkish authorities investigate comedian for joke about Alevi massacre

Police are investigating a Turkish stand-up comedian over a joke she made about the 1993 murder of dozens of Alevi intellectuals in the Madimak hotel in Turkey’s central Sivas province, CNN Türk reported on Thursday.

A video of Pınar Fidan’s set at the Tuz Biber stand up show in Ankara drew outrage on social media over her the comedian’s reference to the 1993 massacre, which targeted attendants of an Alevi cultural festival in the hotel after Islamists incited a mob to attack the Alevi writer Aziz Nesin for his attempt to publish Salman Rushdie’s novel “The Satanic Verses”.

In a quip on common stereotypes used about Turkey’s largest religious minority, Fidan said people who wanted to kill Alevis would be better off looking for them in Turkey’s meyhanes, popular taverns that sell alcohol and food, rather than in their places of worship.

“You can round them all up in a hotel and burn them,” Fidan said referring to Alevis during her performance. “It’s happened before.”

Thirty-seven people, mostly Alevis in Sivas for the conference, were killed in the Madimak massacre.

Tens of thousands of Turks shared their outrage at the joke on social media, leading Fidan to lock her Instagram account, CNN Türk reported.

But the comedian first shared a post saying she was an Alevi herself and that she had used irony in her set to criticise, and had not intended to make light of the situation, according to a social media user who shared a screenshot of her explanation.