Tuesday, August 27

Alawites in Syria and Alevis in Turkey: Crucial Differences

It's getting horribly dirty in Syria son. Very complicated. Syrian history, in some ways, is even more complicated than say Jerusalem and Israel. For a supposedly holy land, the land has been drenched with blood far too much. 

Anyway, one particular view on the two of many sects in Syria. 



Alawites in Syria and Alevis in Turkey: Crucial Differences :: Center for Islamic Pluralism

by Stephen Schwartz
Gatestone Institute
August 17, 2012

Prophet Muhammad names Imam Ali as his successor, according to Shia tradition, depicted in a 14th c. CE manuscript -- Image Via Wikimedia Commons.

Sectarian differences, threatening to ensnare Muslims outside Syria's borders, have emerged as a key aspect of the horrific bloodshed there. Since February 2011 the Syrian protestors, mainly following Sunni Islam, have mobilized against the Baathist government of Bashar Al-Assad, as a further chapter in the "Arab Spring." As of the end of July 2012, fatalities in the Syrian fighting are estimated at more than 20,000.

In Syria, Al-Assad's state, military, and irregular militias draw significantly on a small – and, to the world, mysterious – variant of Shia Islam known as Alawites. Of Syria's population of 22 million, at least two million are Alawites; it is common to see them credited with 12 percent of the country's inhabitants. They mostly reside in the Syrian province of Latakia, from the northwest border with Turkey along the Mediterranean coast, and in southern Syria. Alawites are also found in Lebanon, and among Syrians and Lebanese abroad.

In Turkey, northward beyond the uneasy Syrian-Turkish frontier, and concentrated in eastern Anatolia, another Shia sect, the Alevis, comprise, according to many estimates, a quarter of the Turkish census, or 20 million out of 80 million. They include, in addition, a million in the Turkish diaspora in Germany, and still more in the ranks of emigrants from Turkey to the Netherlands and other Western European lands.

It is easy to conflate the Alawites and Alevis. Superficially the Alawites and the Alevis may seem related closely or even identical, especially because of their corresponding names; moreover, about a half million Arab Alawites also live on the Turkish side of the border with Syria.

No comments: