Twenty homes marked in Alevi-majority neighbourhood in Turkey

Residents of an Alevi-majority neighbourhood in Turkey’s southern province of Mersin are on edge after discovering a number of date markings on homes amid reports of a targeting of the religious minority group.

Local residents informed police that roughly 20 homes were marked with different dates in the Piris Reis neighbourhood of the town of Yenişehir, news site Duvar reported on Monday.

The report follows an incident last week, when houses belonging to Alevis and Kurds in the Karşıyaka district of Turkey’s western province of İzmir were marked with red crosses, prompting residents to notify the police. 

Alevism is the second most widely held belief in Turkey following Sunni Islam. A branch of Islam that combines Shi’ite, Sufi, and Sunni traditions, Alevis are not recognised as Muslims by many groups in Turkey due to their secular beliefs and acceptance of drinking alcohol, among other practices.

The group has been targeted in the past, including in İstanbul’s predominantly Alevi Gazi neighborhood, where in 1995 22 people died and 155 were injured in a series of armed attacks. 

 “There’s tension in the air in the neighbourhood since yesterday. We don’t know what these dates mean,’’ one resident of Piris Reis told Duvar.  

“If those dates denote construction or maintenance work in the neighbourhood, they could have informed us beforehand,’’ the resident added.