Support 110 years of independent journalism.

  1. World
  2. Asia
5 August 2008

Will they tolerate me if I wear shorts?

Becer Gul gives her views on the current government in Turkey, which some claim has an hidden Islami

By Becer Gul

Ever since Ataturk became the leader of Turkey and established a secular country, the Alevi people were able to speak out openly and say: “Yes we are Alevis. We have our own practices and, indeed, we pay taxes like everyone else.”

For years we have been asking for more rights but the government just ignored us. However, as a lot of Alevis began to migrate to European countries, they came to know of their human rights and that there are other people out there who can support them. Today there are lots of new Alevi centres in Turkey, where before there weren’t.

In regards to the current AKP government in the country, for the Alevis there are both negatives and positives. I am a secularist. I don’t like the hijab because I think in this type of Islam there is no tolerance. Will they tolerate me if I wear shorts or if I go swimming or even if I go out with my bare head?

I know they will force women to cover-up. In Turkey most men make their wives to cover their heads. Further, the number of women covering-up is on the increase. And they are not just content with covering them up. They are covering the woman and keeping them in the house. We are looking at a future where the woman’s place will be at home because this is a male-dominated religion. These people do not want women to do anything. They are taking advantage of their religion in order to keep the woman inside.

However it is not just the Sunnis. There are even extremists among Alevis, specifically those who grew up in mixed societies. If you live in a place which is homogenous in terms of religion, such as my town of Tunceli where close to 90 percent are Alevis, then there is more tolerance for other people. Personally I have lots of Sunni and Alevi friends but I don’t like extremists on both sides.

Select and enter your email address Your new guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture each weekend - from the New Statesman. A quick and essential guide to domestic politics from the New Statesman's Westminster team. A weekly newsletter helping you understand the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email. Stay up to date with NS events, subscription offers & updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

Some people say that if a person is not an Alevi, then they are not going to marry them or even talk to them for that matter. So there are also extremist Alevis.

Content from our partners
How software will make or break sustainability
Sustainable finance can save us from the energy crisis – with the Luxembourg Stock Exchange
How trailblazers are using smart meters to make the move to net zero

In Turkey people respect my Alevi side more then my Kurdish. When people ask my mum about who she is, she will tell them that she is an Alevi. This is because her Alevi side has a stronger effect on her personality then being Kurdish.

One more thing about the Alevis is that they are very keen on education. This includes girls education. Amongst the Sunnis families however, girls are covered-up and placed under pressure. But in Alevi culture there are greater gender rights. A women has more voice then in a Sunni society. Male dominance still exists, partially because of the effects of the Ottoman empire.

If someone has a naked head they don’t think she wants sex – its normal.

*The author of this article is writing under a pseudonym