Marginalizing the mainstream or vice versa? Ataturk in Alevi-Bektashi cosmologies
Rabia Harmansah (Ruhr Universitat Bochum)
Being subjected to marginalization on the basis of their religious identity, Alevis and Bektashis have developed various strategies to cope with the circumstances and policies discriminating against them in Turkey. These strategies do not simply target defense and protection of their identities, but also include various ways, in which they transform, question, re-shape their self-identities and belief systems to relate themselves to the "mainstream." This paper will analyze Alevis and Bektashis' accommodating strategies towards certain policies of the Turkish Republic through the incorporation of Ataturk as a messianic figure into their cosmologies. For some Alevis-Bektashis, Ataturk is considered not only the Twelfth Imam Mahdi, who is believed to appear in personality of different persons, but also embodiment of the Republic, which symbolizes an ideal model of state. The paper will depend on an ethnographic and historical study of the responses of Alevis-Bektashis to the abolition of religious orders in Turkey in 1925.
At the margins of Islam in Europe