Yesterday was the first day of the Islamic New Year, and Muharram is the first month of the Muslim lunar (Hijri) calendar. Muharram is considered by Alevis to be a month of mourning because Husain, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad, and his family were murdered on the 10th of this month in 680. The 10th day of Muharram is known as Ashura.
TRT has geared up to air religious and cultural programs reflecting the Alevi faith during the first 12 days of Muharram. The decision came only days after the trial broadcasts for TRT’s first Kurdish channel, which aired last Thursday. Full broadcasts will start on Jan. 1.
During the first 12 days of Muharram, TRT will broadcast documentaries and religious and cultural programs about Alevism. Alevi dedes (religious leaders) and academics will also appear on TRT and discuss the fundamentals of the faith. TRT will also air videos depicting the life and murder of Husain. On the 12th day of Muharram, Alevi groups will sing songs mourning the death of Husain and his relatives.
Alevis, thought to number around 6 to 12 million, have for long complained about being deprived of their cultural and religious rights. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) recently devised a new initiative to find solutions to problems faced by the Alevi community. As part of the initiative, Alevi dedes will be paid a monthly salary by the state, and the utility bills of cemevis (Alevi places of worship) will also be paid by the state.TRT Director General İbrahim Şahin said he had for the last year dreamed of airing programs for Alevis. “I’ve been making plans for this project for a year now. TRT is a public channel and is open to all,” he said.
TRT will also air live programs on Jan. 7 from three large cemevis in İstanbul and Ankara.
Armenian radio slated for February
TRT and Public Armenian Television signed an agreement of cooperation five months ago for TRT to start radio broadcasts in the Armenian language. According to the terms of this agreement, one TRT radio channel will start airing Armenian broadcasts in February. TRT will also create an Armenian Web site and plans to launch an Armenian TV channel in one year.