Religion

Private matter of popular islam

Cem ozdemir is the federal chairman of Bundnis 90/Die Grunen (Alliance 90/The Greens). And: author of the book for young people "Die Turkei" ("Turkey"), in which he guides us through the history of Turkey and paints a picture of a nation seeking its way between tradition and modernity. In this site he calls his own faith a private matter, speaks of a popular Islam in Turkey and pleads for freedom of faith.

this site: Because of your first name, one could think that you have something to do with the Allevite religion?

ozdemir: That's what most Allevites believe – but that's not the case. But the fact that they believe and think 'He must be one of us' has a lot to do with the fact that Turkish society is still very strongly marked by ethnic origin, religious affiliation, but also local identity. In the past it was the tribes. They still play a role today, in the background. In Turkey, there is one very important question: Where do you actually come from?? With this, the questioner wants to know: Do you happen to come from the same place, from the same religion as me?? Then we have a common ground, then something connects us under the umbrella of Turkey. This plays an incredibly important role in determining identity. As for the Allevites, you have to know that they have been terribly suppressed for centuries: as heretics, their faith was considered derogatory to Islam. In this respect, there is also a longing: There is one of us who possibly stands up for our rights. I am not one – but still stood up for the rights of the Allevites. I don't wear a headscarf, as you can see – but I stand up for the rights of headscarf wearers. I'm not a woman, by all accounts – but advocate for women's rights. I come from a Turkish, non-Turkish family – stand up for their rights. I am straight and happily married – and I stand up for the rights of Turkish and Kurdish lesbians and gays. This is something that is still unusual in Turkey. You actually always stand up for those whose origins you share. Why should you stand up for people who don't share your origin? This is perhaps the most important step of Turkish democracy to learn that. That you feel empathy, as it were, for others who are not like yourself. But that considered as the basis of their own democratic understanding.