Extensive probe into Malatya, tension under way

July 31, 2012, Tuesday/ 17:45:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

The Malatya Governor’s Office has announced that an extensive investigation is under way after a group of Sunni residents threw stones at an Alevi family’s house in the eastern province of Malatya over the weekend.

The governor’s office released a written statement on Tuesday saying that an investigation has been launched to determine who, if anyone, purposely provoked tensions between the Alevi and Sunni residents of the town of Sürgü in Malatya’s Doğanşehir district.

According to the statement, the incident broke out as a result of a quarrel between two individuals, which then turned into an escalated attack. “It is not such a big incident that we can call it a sectarian conflict between the Alevi and Sunni communities,” the Governor’s Office said. “In addition, when the incident broke out, many gendarmes were brought into town and necessary security measures were immediately taken and these measures are still in place to prevent any provocations.” A quarrel between members of an Alevi family and a Ramadan drummer have increased Sunni-Alevi tensions in the town. Each morning during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, an hour-and-a-half before dawn, drummers tour the streets, hammering out a repetitive beat to wake people up to have their suhur (pre-dawn meal), after which those who are fasting must stop eating and drinking. A quarrel began when members of the Evli family, who are Alevi, spoke with Ramadan drummer Mustafa Evşi because they were disturbed by the noise of his drumming.

A group of Sunnis who witnessed the quarrel came together and began throwing stones at the Evli family’s house, allegedly chanting “God is great” and telling them to leave town. The gendarmerie implemented intense security measures to protect the family. The tensions began to fade with the help of a number of politicians who arrived in the town on Sunday to help the two sides reach an understanding.

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