Law, Social Justice & Global Development



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in general (accessed on 14 October 2008).

2 Most nation states by exclusion of other institutions dominate criminal law, and the same goes for family law which is regarded as having a public function. In Islamic countries but also in Israel however family law is usually left to separate religious courts (for Muslims, Jews and Christians).

3 In Texas and in New York USA for example and , in London UK and , and in Canada . All sites accessed on 14 October 2008. From the perspective of the modern state the Beth Din is a court of arbitration. I would argue that the Beth Din for orthodox Jews is a court of law. They accept a classification as court of arbitration because they know most modern states do not allow for a second legal system on an equal footing on their territory.

4 The research was initially funded by the University of Amsterdam, Faculty of Law, where I then worked. Today I conduct the research as part of my general research on multicultural society and the law. See <http://www.wibovanrossum.nl>.

5 Usually a recitation consists of saying just this, with some additional words.

6 Personal experience at an Alevi conference Krisztina Kehl-Bodrogi told me about.

7 Or instead of Hatice the archangel Gabriel (Turkish Cebrail).

8 There are several stories about the forties, probably each sect has its own version. Moosa describes versions of the Shabak, the Bektashis, the Ahl-i Haqq (or Ali Ilahis) (Moosa 1988: 115-119), the Ibrahimiyya (166). The night of the forty is also mentioned by Gülçiçek (1996: 97) and interpreted as a symbol of the unity of a group (see also Öztürkmen 2005: 252). Furat (2007: 27-28) states that Alevis consider the story the root and foundation of Alevism. In some accounts the stage for the forty is set right after Muhammads night journey to heaven, the Miraj (Birge 1937: 137-138) See Ramadan (2007) for an orthodox account of the Miraj.

9 A term difficult to translate, but comparable to the ‘community’ attending a Mass in church. The church is first of all a distinct territory (only to be entered modestly dressed, and for some only after performing rituals like performing a cross or a slight bow), while during the service even more rules of respect need to be observed.

10 Alevis object to the semah being called a dance. Even if it looks like a dance to outsiders, for Alevis it is a prayer. See for a performance <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEGce1fp19I&fmt=18> (last accessed on 15 October 2008).

11 With the exception of becoming a dede, the Alevi ‘priest’. Some Alevis said in interviews that when a dede is not available and nobody else knows how to lead a cem, a well educated ‘ana’ (grandmother) is allowed to act as priest. See also note 25.

12 Rumours are that the imam of a local mosque infuriated the crowd on Friday afternoon prayers in July 1993 by saying that Aziz Nesin, who translated Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, was also in the hotel.

13 See on this last event especially Marcus (1996) who wrote an eyewitness account of the riots in Gazi, and in general on violence against Alevis Jongerden (2003).

14 Germany has no records of the nationality of parents. Many young Turks in Germany have nationalised (over 150.000 in the last four years; in 1999 for example, over 2 million people were registered as Turks). They now count as Germans in the official statistics.

15 Most of these associations came into being after the Sivas incident in 1993 mentioned earlier. ‘Sivas’ was a turning point for identity development: in stead of hiding yourself and keeping your religion secret, Alevis felt a need to ‘come out of the closet’ to make themselves known as ‘different Muslims’ in Europe. Especially the youth felt that way.

16 This estimation is based on my regular visits and on my interviews with administrators of the Alevi associations.

17 See for example the Dutch film/documentary of Emile and Maarten van Rouveroy van Nieuwaal ‘Staphorst in tegenlicht’ (‘Staphorst in back-light’, 2007), and the legal historical research ‘Staphorst en zijn gerichten’ (‘Staphorst and its courts’) of Van den Bergh et al (1980).

18 Jewish law, Islamic sharia, Canon law and the Hindu concept of ‘dharma’ are mostly regarded as religious law. Only Dharma comes close to the Alevi concept of law. ‘Dharma’, according to S. Desai, traditionally means ‘what is followed by those learned in the Vedas and what is approved by the conscience of the virtuous who are exempt from hatred and inordinate affection.’ (Desai 1986: 1) See also the work of Robert Hayden for a comparison between dharma and western types of law (Hayden 1984) and for dharma in the traditional nomadic ‘panchayat’ in India (Hayden 1999).

19 See the Gnosis Archive for example on <http://www.gnosis.org/gnintro.htm> (last accessed on 14 October 2008) and Schreiner for what this means for modern western religions (1990: 90-91).

20 In cases of family disputes, marriage, gender equality etcetera there is almost no room in Dutch law for the recognition of other law. Also in mediation parties cannot digress from the rules of family law and have their mediation agreement enforced in court, because these rules are considered to pertain to public policy. Dutch judges for example, will not accept a promise in reconciliation ‘not to marry a Sunni man’. Of course, on a voluntary basis and when kept completely hidden from state law, much is possible. See Berger (2006) as far as the application of sharia in the Netherlands is concerned.

21 Apart from this, we may expect other factors like costs of lawyers, emotional distance to state law, time and effort involved in a law suit etc to play a role. These factors were not mentioned in interviews however.

22 Dutch officials are mostly still unaware of Alevism.

23 The reluctance to accept Alevis as religion and as minority has consequences when it comes to the decision to accept Turkey as EU member (WRR 2004). Alevis themselves however are divided about the desirability of being a ‘legally accepted minority’ in Turkey, since some regard Alevism as (not a minor but) a major contribution to the Turkish nation (Özalay 2006).

24 More specifically the second sentence of Article 2 of Protocol No. 1, which provides: ‘In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions.’ See ECtHR case of Hasan and Eylem Zengin v. Turkey (Application no. 1448/04) Judgment 9 October 2007. In 2007 some 4000 court cases in Turkey were pending on this issue (UNHCR 2008).

25 The case makes clear that there is a difference between the religious ideology of gender equality and social life. At least the ideology of gender equality makes a discussion possible over the alleged instruction of the deceased.

26 Within the Dutch associations this led to a discussion whether women should be allowed to do the master to become ana (female dede). The outcome was that Alevism and modern society do not accept gender discrimination, so that even the traditional function of dede – some of whom say their lineage must be traceable to the family of the prophet – should be open to women. Some elders do not accept this outcome. Finance of the master is still unsure, so consequences of the discussion can be postponed.
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