Speaking in an interview with Today's Zaman, Kılıçdaroğlu has strongly objected to the claim that Alevism is a non-Islamic belief, which has recently been the topic of heated debates.
“These are inappropriate and unnecessary debates. I also find the debates over whether a cemevi [place of worship for Alevis] should be built in Parliament inappropriate, as Turkey has so many other problems right now. Is Alevism a religion separate from Islam? You cannot separate Alevism from Islam. Our beliefs, the Prophet and holy book are all known. How can you separate it? We believe in the same God. We believe in the same Quran and we believe in the same Prophet. Presenting Alevism as a non-Muslim faith is not right,” he said.
Debates over whether Alevism is a separate religion or not were triggered recently by a request from CHP Tunceli deputy Hüseyin Aygün to have a cemevi built in the building of Parliament. However, his request was rejected, citing a law which says that the places of worship for Muslims are mosques.
Kılıçdaroğlu also described Alevism as “a union of Turkish culture and Islam.” One should not fall into the traps of international groups which present Alevism as a separate religion, but in fact which aim to create religious or sectarian rifts, said the CHP leader and warned that both Alevis and Sunnis should not and will not fall into these traps.
“No matter what anyone says, that rift will not occur. Drawing lessons from previous sectarian rifts in history, Alevis and Sunnis look to the future with a smile, because our people are tolerant [of one another].”
He said that in spite of serious provocative acts and local incidents in the past which aimed to create an Alevi-Sunni rift, people with different religions across Turkey are living in peace. “Despite provocations, our society did not divide and does not intend to divide. Hatay is a typical example of this. Every person with a different faith is living in peace and security there. The same goes for Amasya, Tokat, Malatya and the rest of Anatolia, because our people are tolerant, friendly and witty. They don't like conflict,” he maintained.
Focusing on a separation between the people who are fasting and people who are not fasting during Ramadan, Kılıçdaroğlu said making such a distinction in such a holy month as Ramadan was “provocation” as well. He was referring to a Ramadan drummer who was recently arrested as he is believed to have caused tensions between the Alevi and Sunni residents of the town of Sürgü in Malatya's Doğanşehir district two weeks ago. The quarrel began when members of the Alevi Evli family spoke with Ramadan drummer Mustafa Evşi on July 28, who was touring their street, because they were disturbed by the noise. A group of Sunnis who witnessed the quarrel came together and began throwing stones at the Evli family's house. Later, a number of protests were staged by Alevis in several provinces in response to the tensions in Malatya.