Sectarian game spoiled with Muharrem İnce

Kadri Gürsel

09 Mayıs 2018 Çarşamba, 11:37
Abone Ol google-news

Muharrem İnce declared at the first rally he staged as the “CHP’s presidential candidate” in his home city of Yalova last Friday that the time was up for the sectarian political game the ruling party has since 2010 staged against the CHP to consolidate the conservative Sunni electorate in its own ranks.

İnce said the following while addressing the huge crowd that had filled Cumhuriyet Square in the centre of Yalova from atop the election bus:

“I will be the president of you all; I will be the president of the eighty million. Look, I am declaring from here, I am declaring: Alevis! You will not suffer injustice under my presidency. Why? Alevis fall in combat, do military service and pay tax, but the state pays the salaries of the imams of we Sunnis’ mosques but the state does not aid Alevis. There can be no such brotherhood.”

Three points are important in this section of İnce’s speech I have quoted. It suffices to read the quote to see two of them.

The first is that İnce says, “Alevis!” He addresses Alevis directly by name. He speaks of the ending of injustice towards Alevis as a campaign promise. This is important because this is a strong emphasis being placed on Alevis’ problems at the first rally.

Alevis hold an important place in the CHP’s electoral base and organisation, and are staunch defenders of a secular republic. It is furthermore no secret that Alevis have been subjected to systematic discrimination and exclusion in AKP Turkey.

In the section titled “Secularism and Freedom of Faith” of the manifesto it published for the 12 June 2012 General Elections, the CHP devoted a sentence to Alevis and said, “We will realise our Alevi citizens’ demand for equal citizenship in every area.”

In the manifesto the CHP drew up for the 7 June and 1 November 2015 elections, conversely, there was no mention of Alevis by name but there was reference to the problems plaguing them.

It cannot be claimed that, in the 2011 and 2015 general election campaigns, General Chair Kılıçdaroğlu devoted the warranted time to the pressure and discrimination suffered by Alevis as a problem in need of solving and identified by name.

On the other hand, İnce’s promise is included in the CHP Programme. With reference to “restructuring the Directorate of Religious Affairs,” Alevi representation on this body and cemevis benefitting from the same support that the state provides to mosques numbers among the CHP’s goals. However, it is more effective to give verbal expression to promises at election rallies than to note them down in programmes.

Now let us come to the second point in İnce’s speech.

“We Sunnis” says Muharrem İnce.

I bring to your attention that we have before us a CHP presidential candidate who says, “We Sunnis” while promising to solve the Alevis problems and standing up for them. While saying, “The state pays the salaries of the imams of Sunnis’ mosques,” he announces that he is also Sunni. He says, “But, we Sunnis’...”

And finally, a third important point. This is a detail that can be elicited, not from reading the quote I made, but from observing Muharrem İnce’s body language. There is a video on YouTube and you can watch it. At the time İnce says, “But, we Sunnis,” he holds his hand over his heart for a few seconds to point to himself.

And a question: Was Muharrem İnce, in order to promise that he would stand up for Alevis’ violated equal citizenship rights, obliged to proclaim that he is Sunni?

Of course, there was no such obligation but he preferred to do so politically.

In past years, and especially in the 12 September 2010 referendum, the 12 June 2011 General Elections and the 10 August 2014 Presidential Election campaigns, Erdoğan, still Prime Minister, may, by reminding his supporters countless times at rallies of Kılıçdaroğlu’s Alevi roots, have managed to put a useful spin on the negative energy with which he imbued the sectarian fault lines against the CHP.

Muharrem İnce is a politician who uses real politics with skill and knows the benefit of repetition in communications. He may repeat the message discussed in this article at various opportunities.

The destruction of the sectarian perception that the ruling party had created against the CHP was necessary for Turkey’s well-being. If success in this respect is down to Muharrem İnce, the person who paved the way for the success will be CHP General Chair Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.

 Muharrem İnce’yle bozulan mezhepçilik oyunu