August 05, 2012
Why Does The NYT Conflate Alevis And Alawites?
Today the New York Times reports on a sectarian incident in Turkey. But its reporter Jeffrey Gettleman gets the issue so very much wrong that one wonders if there is a darker intend behind this piece:
The ill will had been brewing for days, ever since the Evli family chased away a drummer who had been trying to rouse people to a predawn Ramadan feast. The Evlis are Alawite, a historically persecuted minority sect of Islam, and also the sect of Syria’s embattled leaders, and many Alawites do not follow Islamic traditions like fasting for Ramadan.
The mob began to hurl insults. Then rocks.
“Death to Alawites!” they shouted. “We’re going to burn you all down!”
First: It is unclear if the Evli family really chased the drummer away. The Turkish paper Huriyett is carefully qualifying that as "alleged". Its report is much less sensationalized:
Members of the Evli family in the Sürgü village of the southeastern Malatya province allegedly asked a Ramadan drummer not to drum in front of their home the night of July 28 as they were not fasting and had work early in the morning. The two sides quarreled after the drummer rejected the family’s request.
Second: The Evli family is of Alevi believe, not Alawite and that is a quite big difference:
Alawis are distinct from the Alevi religious sect in Turkey, although the terms share similar etymologies.
Third: Where did Gettleman get the quote “Death to Alawites!”? Hurriyet reports the incident differently:
News of the incident was heard throughout the village and a mob of around 60 people gathered in front of the Evli family’s house yesterday. The group hurled stones at the family's home and said the family members were “Kurds and Alevis.”
Despite the rather similar sounding names and despite both being some far offshoot from Shia Islam there are serious differences between Alevis and Alawites. There are also differences in their ethnography and their political positions. The somewhat 15 million Alevis live mostly in central Anatolia and their language is Turkish and Kurd. Their religion appeared sometime around 1300. The Alawis (or Nusayris) speak Arabic and live mostly on the west coast of Syria. Their believe was founded some 300 years earlier than the Alevi believe.
What the NYT writes the following it is definitely wrong:
Many Turkish Alawites, estimated at 15 million to 20 million strong and one of the biggest minorities in this country, seem to be solidly behind Syria’s embattled strongman, Bashar al-Assad, while Turkey’s government, and many Sunnis, supports the Syrian rebels.
While it is correct that Turkish Alevis support the Syrian government, the NYT not only conflates two distinct religions and it misses the real reason why Alevis would feel positively towards the Syrian government.
The struggle of the Alewis in Turkey is more a political one than a religious one:
Alevis were early supporters of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, whom they credit with ending Ottoman-era discrimination against them, while Kurdish Alevis viewed his rise with caution.
Being Kemalists makes the Alevis a political enemy of Erdogan's Islamist AK party.
Both, the Alevis and the Alawis are religious minorities in their respective countries. Both support secularism because, as minorities, any non-secular government would be to their detriment. It is not the not existing similarity of their believes that lets the Turkish Alevis support the Syrian government. It is their common support for secularism that lets them show that solidarity.
So why is the New York Times publishing this factually wrong piece? Is that to support the sectarian Turkish prime minister Erdogan who has used the same nonfactual conflation:
Beginning last year, AKP leaders including Erdogan accused Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the Alevi leader of Erdogan’s main political opponents, the secularist Republican People’s party (CHP), of support for Assad, and alleged “sectarian solidarity” between Turkish Alevis and Syrian Alawites.
Erdogan’s allegation that Alevis and Alawites are co-religionists is inaccurate and irresponsible.
Again - why did the New York Times publish such an incorrect piece? Why is it supporting the false Erdogan narrative? Why is it helping to let this false narrative gain credibility in the west?
Posted by b on August 5, 2012 at 11:21 AM | Permalink
Three words as to why. "Divide and Conquer." They are desperate to make it a Sunni vs Aliwite conflict in Syria because they want to pry away the Sunni supporters of the Syrian government. The implication is that the only possible reason one can support Assad is because s/he is Aliwites.
But the best reason to support Assad is because, at this point, Syria's national survival depends on it. There is Assad or there is Lebanon 1975-90, with God only knows what at the end.
Syria's government has maintained a level of religious freedom and equality unparalleled in any middle eastern government and better than many western ones. The recently murdered defense minister was christian. His replacement, who was previously chief of staff, is Sunni.
Posted by: Lysander | Aug 5, 2012 11:41:26 AM | 1
So Erdogan took the sectarian poison from the western imperialists? Turkey will be finished before this ends. There should be a limit to how arrogant, self serving and stupid a politician can be.
Posted by: ThePaper | Aug 5, 2012 11:44:17 AM | 2
Liberal interventionists may find this confusing. One of their tenets is support for persecuted minorities.
Posted by: dh | Aug 5, 2012 12:09:08 PM | 3
As I mentioned in my previous post it is control of the desert religions which is being fought over. Iran has history on it's side and will prevail.
Posted by: hans | Aug 5, 2012 12:52:51 PM | 4
I don't suspect an intention whatsoever. I think it's pure ignorance and a little bit of sensationalism. What are newspapers made for? Profit.
Posted by: m_s | Aug 5, 2012 1:08:30 PM | 5
If there is one thing the newspapers have shown us by their coverage of Syria it is that they do not compete to provide consumers with accurate and objective reports. On the contrary they vie with each other to catch the attention of the rulers of the Empire by churning out every more audacious travesties of propaganda and special pleading.
In doing so they drive out honest, principled and knowledgeable writers and offer careers to whores ready to sign on to any enormity, to underwrite any lie, for the price of a secure career, and the gratitude of the Masters of War.
Newspapers prize their credibility as an asset to be auctioned off when times are hard. And there is no better example of this than The Guardian and The Observer.
Posted by: bevin | Aug 5, 2012 1:42:29 PM | 6
I think it is related to this here:
Fox News - Reality Check: Is Al-Qaeda An Enemy Or Not?
The New York Times Article you quote ends like this
A few months ago, Mr. Eryilmaz, the member of Parliament, who belongs to an opposition party, went to see Mr. Assad in Damascus. He said that Mr. Assad was actually quite relaxed and that this whole conflict was really about religion.
“What’s happening inside Syria is the Syrian leg of an international project,” he said, with the Turkish government aligning with Saudi Arabia and Qatar to make this part of the Middle East more religiously “radical.”
He was sitting in a cafe in Antakya, a border town with a large Alawite population, and digging into a plate of baklava during the bright, sunny hours of the afternoon, when Muslims observing Ramadan usually fast.
“Look at my people,” he smiled, spreading his hands wide and encompassing families
eating ice cream and one young couple nuzzling on a couch. “My people are free.”
I find it hard to believe this is meant to help Erdogan.
Posted by: somebody | Aug 5, 2012 1:44:31 PM | 7
gettleman has been based out of nairobi for years, providing mediocre-to-mis/disinformed reporting on east africa. his primary sources there tended to be comprised of usg (dos, dod, usaid...) officials and opinion-makers,and western-supported govt officials. accordingly, his reporting there has been constantly derided by most scholars and diligent observers.
Posted by: b real | Aug 5, 2012 2:15:01 PM | 8
@ 8 b real long time ... any thoughts on the rumors about the death of Meles Zenawi? and while your at it ... What is going to happen to Somalia now that it has a "constitution" before the August deadline and poised with the Kenyan's for the August offensive on Kismayo? The Horn may be heating up fast real soon.
Posted by: thirsty | Aug 5, 2012 3:51:58 PM | 9
I vote for a 'darker intent' behind NYT piece. This journal has taken the art of insinuations to a pathological level.
Posted by: Sophia | Aug 5, 2012 4:18:00 PM | 10
You may put thousands of post with this type of narrative!
Whenever you refer to people as "minority" and "majority" they always will be problems. This is political practice that comes from capitalist and liberal-democracy oriented societies. And, this "practice" has spread trough post-colonial states which are trying to catch those "advanced".
Alevi did not vote for AKP. Eastern Anatolia voted for opposition Republican Party and far right party which I do not remember a name. That itself make them an enemy of Erdogan.
I occasionally read TodaysZaman and Hurriyet and both are terrible. They are worst than silly, copy (Turkish ethnocentric media) is worst than original (Western media outlets), which they are trying to imitate. While I am trying not to fall in trap of generalization, what I've found only worth of reading is NURAY MERT. There is maybe some others but I, yet, have to find them. She is obviously disconnected of the ruling circles of that chauvinistic totalitarian Turkish Gov., and its Deep State structures which still live and well.
Posted by: neretva'43 | Aug 5, 2012 5:41:44 PM | 11
'Again - why did the New York Times publish such an incorrect piece? Why is it supporting the false Erdogan narrative? Why is it helping to let this false narrative gain credibility in the west?'
i suppose this is a rhetorical question! cause..this is the NYT of Judith Millers WMD in Iraq infamy
Posted by: brian | Aug 5, 2012 6:30:48 PM | 12
I seriously think you misinterpret the intention of the article. In passing the New York Times acknowledges the following:
"Part of this sentiment may be self-protective. The Syrian rebels hardly conceal a vicious sectarian antipathy. Khaldoun al-Rajab, an officer with the rebel Free Syrian Army, said he witnessed two Alawites in a car take a wrong turn in Homs and end up in a Sunni neighborhood. “Of course they were arrested and killed by rebels,” he said."
That is a far cry from the romantizising the "Free Syrian Army" Western papers attempted at a certain stage.
Posted by: somebody | Aug 5, 2012 7:31:11 PM | 13
Speaking of time lines, 'couple of weeks' - (Reuters India) - Israel is upgrading its Arrow II ballistic missile shield in a U.S.-backed "race" against Iran, Syria and other regional enemies, a senior Israeli defence official said on Sunday.
The new "Block 4" generation of guided interceptor rockets, radars and technologies for synchronizing Arrow with U.S. systems was being installed in deployed Israeli batteries, a process that would take several weeks, the official said.
Posted by: Kevin | Aug 5, 2012 8:19:25 PM | 14
@thirsty - no crystal ball here but i agree that things could be heating up real soon - still quite out-of-the-loop on the daily news at this time - not up-to-date on the rumors re meles - am actually in the maternity ward right now w/ a beautiful, very calm new son (cigars to all!) - keeping me occupied for time being - and so - plans to resume the blog are still on hold
Posted by: b real | Aug 5, 2012 9:16:01 PM | 15
@15 Hey! Congratulations, I am so happy for you and your family. We are lucky to have more "real" people blessing this world. Be well and enjoy your son :)
Posted by: thirsty | Aug 5, 2012 9:29:34 PM | 16
b real, i am so happy for you. it really makes life worthwhile doesn't it? the best of news desrerves the best of wishes. big heartfelt hug for you, your wife and newborn.
Posted by: annie | Aug 5, 2012 11:17:16 PM | 18
Best wishes to b real and "Mrs. real" on this "really" happy occasion. I look forward to your blog, but for now first things first.
Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Aug 6, 2012 1:56:12 AM | 19
As I have previously mentioned, the troubles in Syria is about the control of the desert religions. Why are the US Christians not supporting their brethren in Syria, besides the doomsday Evangelists led by that crazy rabid Zionist John Hagee is the split between mainstream Christians and Orthodox now open war. After all the Vatican 2 made peace with the Orthodox church. Are the Zionist really in control in the Vatican. Think this is far fetched, well read this then.
Posted by: hans | Aug 6, 2012 5:10:50 AM | 20
Anyway know why the Syrian govt. has not targeted the foreign backed insurgents in the various areas of Aleppo they are holed up in?
the govt. has given enough time for the civilains to leave and to surround the areas they are in and has been carrying out probing missions - so whats the delay?
Posted by: Irshad | Aug 6, 2012 7:36:26 AM | 21
Looks like the conflict is now spilling into Turkey proper..
The PKK attacked a Turkish army outpost (http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/Default.aspx?pageID=428&VideoID=368)
In other news..Oil pipeline sending Iraqi oil to Turkey's been bombed...
I bet this wasn't part of the plan when Erdogan accepted the plan to instigate unrest/regime change in Syria..
If the medicine's side-effect is worse than the cure itself, don't use it..
Posted by: Zico | Aug 6, 2012 8:34:48 AM | 22
Congrats to "The Real Family" May you all live in real peace and love and continue to do what you do BEST
Posted by: Marly | Aug 6, 2012 8:34:52 AM | 23
"Again - why did the New York Times publish such an incorrect piece? Why is it supporting the false Erdogan narrative? Why is it helping to let this false narrative gain credibility in the west?"
Surely you're joking?!?
"Gettleman"? "The New York Times"? "Self-serving, lying propaganda"? You must be able to see the common thread here...
Have you forgotten the endlessly looped question: "Is it good for the Jews?" Because that's all the New York Times ever prints. Well... that and sports scores.
Another poster has already pointed out the dirty deeds done dirt cheap by one Judith Miller - herself just another interchangeable serial liar in service to criminal and murderous Zionist Israel while all the while collecting her pay from the New York Times. Gettleman is simply continuing the malodorous tradition.
Posted by: arthurdecco | Aug 6, 2012 10:34:20 AM | 25
I wonder how common the confusion is. I know some Palestinians
here in the Midwest who believe Alevis and Alawis are the same
people/religion, that Alawis are simply Turkish Alawis.
Posted by: amspirnational | Aug 6, 2012 7:31:24 PM | 26
Corr. (Alevis are simply Turkish Alawis.)
Posted by: amspirnational | Aug 6, 2012 7:32:04 PM | 27
Here is a New Yorker article regarding the Turkish government's imprisonment of journalists "for doing their job", ie contradicting official spin:
It also reports that "the arrests of journalists are part of a larger campaign by Erdogan to crush domestic opposition to his rule".
On the bright side, it shows that there are still journalists who believe in the truth.
Posted by: despard | Aug 6, 2012 11:10:47 PM | 28
Except, they are locked up.
Posted by: Alexander | Aug 7, 2012 12:26:37 AM | 29
They are related amspirnational, German Wikipedia sees the distinction as national
"Türkische Nusairier sehen sich als arabischstämmige Aleviten, die eine Richtung des Alevitentums neben den kurdischstämmigen Aleviten und türkischstämmigen Bektaschi-Aleviten bilden." - Translation: Turkish Nusairi consider themselves as Arab Alevi, a branch of Alevis as Kurdish and Turkish Bektaschi Alewis..."
Which makes the Turkish/Syrian/Iraqui/Iranian religious, linguistic and national mix all the more potential dynamite.
Posted by: somebody | Aug 7, 2012 2:35:17 AM | 30
Regarding Syria, specifically Aleppo
I have had a Syrian fellow, very nice, very polite on my blog for months now. He left a large update which I posted yesterday.
He is Sunni.
He and others have been supportive of the government.
They are aware, very aware of what the outcome will be if the NATO terrorists win the day.
The Syrians are paying the cost, very dearly I may add, for the "remaking of the ME"
Tozz has expressed a great deal of displeasure in the terrorists. Saying the Syrians do not want them there.
I have noticed the media is attempting, always, to portray Allawites as oppressors. Going so far as using tools to claim the christians are being oppressed by the government. There has been a so called Jesuit priest making the rounds via the media and talking in Canada.
So many lies,constantly.
Posted by: Penny | Aug 7, 2012 8:34:06 AM | 31
There has been a so called Jesuit priest making the rounds via the media and talking in Canada.
No surprise there Penny, the Zionist are firmly entrenched in the current Vatican. That certain Tribe has a strangle hold on the internal affairs of the Vatican Politburo.
Posted by: hans | Aug 7, 2012 8:49:12 AM | 32
32 - What evidence do you offer regarding "Zionist" hegemony over the Vatican? I know each advance in the cause for canonization of Pius XII brings howls of rage from the ADL and that crowd. So il Papa can't be totally cowed. I'm not sure if they made them give up praying for the conversion of the Jews yet, or not.
Posted by: despard | Aug 7, 2012 9:24:43 AM | 33
Penny @ 31
Interesting to read what Tozz write, good men.
Posted by: Alexander | Aug 7, 2012 9:38:22 AM | 34
hans@32 & despard@33
This so called Jesuit speaks for itself
I chose a news story out of Texas, but, he was recently getting coverage in Canada for his NATO spin
A HREF="http://www.dallasblog.com/201208061009307/dallas-blog/jesuit-urges-al-qaeda-to-bomb-syrian-churches.html">Jesuit Priest selling war
"Many Jesuits praise Father Paolo for transforming the monastery of St. Moses the Abyssinian – 80 miles north of Damascus – into a mosque and a military base for the Free Syrian Army."
Everything done to benefit the NATO terrorists benefits Israel
This Jesuit tool undertook action to aid terrorists in their ethnic cleansing of the Christians and the killing of many, many innocent civilians endangering the Syrians as a whole and my commenter specifically
If this Jesuit isn't acting on behalf of Israel then who is he working to benefit?
The Christians being killed?
If it it correct that the Assad government asked him to leave, it would seem they had good reason
Also he resides in Beirut, which would put him in the camp with the specific christan group that may have participated with Israel in the massacre at Sabra/Shatilla
Posted by: Penny | Aug 7, 2012 9:40:04 AM | 35
oops my bad, goofed my link, hopefully you can check it out
You can find more on this so called Jesuit all over the media, spouting his baloney
Posted by: Penny | Aug 7, 2012 9:41:00 AM | 36
I have given this link before but here it is again. This is only a one piece, we are still awaiting the trial of the Pope butler (I guess it will never come to that), financial scandals, sexual misconduct and the background of the current pope. I am sure Mossad has alot of dirt.
Posted by: hans | Aug 7, 2012 10:30:22 AM | 37
"Interesting to read what Tozz write, good men"
I would agree. He has done much to communicate with readers so we can understand what is ongoing presently in Syria.
Please let Tozz know you appreciate that he does try to get the info out. That he has reached out to us in the West.
I believe we do not fully appreciate the risk he is taking.
Posted by: Penny | Aug 7, 2012 12:57:13 PM | 39
Posted by: Alexander | Aug 7, 2012 3:17:58 PM | 40
b congrats to you and your family - just read the great news
Posted by: revenire | Aug 7, 2012 4:19:07 PM | 41
b real, congratulations, and joy to you and your family.
Posted by: Noirette | Aug 8, 2012 12:52:34 PM | 42
bullshit over diference of alevi and alewit
there is nicht qualitative difference between them
since there is no central religion authority by these people there are differences between kurd arab turk azeri and albanian bulgarian alevis
they are nothey dont call themselves alevi
it is 20 th century label
they are ehli hak
wegcomradesand so on
Posted by: sadettin bay | Aug 10, 2012 5:40:16 PM | 43
Seven days after it published the crap piece about Alevis in Turkey the NYT finally issues a correction:
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: August 12, 2012
An article last Sunday about hostility by Turkey’s Sunni Muslim majority toward the country’s Alawite community, an Islamic minority suspected of allegiance to the Alawite-dominated government of neighboring Syria, conflated two distinct minority groups in Turkey, the Alawites and the Alevis. The Alawites, of Arab ethnicity, are closely related to Syria’s Alawites and are concentrated in Hatay province bordering northern Syria. Their population is believed to be less than 1 million. The Alevis, mostly ethnic Turks, total between 15 million and 20 million and are spread throughout Turkey. While both sects are offshoots of Shiite Islam and are sometimes confused as the same, even by some of their own members, it is not the case that Alawites constitute “one of the biggest minorities” in Turkey.
If the NYT makes such a huge obvious error and takes seven days to correct, we can imagine how much else of what it publishes is wrong.
Posted by: b | Aug 13, 2012 10:53:39 AM | 44