“Rediscovering what unites us”

The Catholic German Bishops’ Conference has sent blessings to the Alevis on the occasion of the Muharrem fast that has just begun and the subsequent Asure festival.

"In the face of a virus that rages regardless of borders, ethnicities and religions, it is more important than ever to rediscover what unites us. Only through more dialogue and more cooperation we will be able to cope with the tasks ahead," said Fulda Auxiliary Bishop Karlheinz Diez, a member of the Bishops’ Conference Sub-Commission for Interreligious Dialogue, in Bonn on Thursday.

On Thursday, the Muharrem fast began for the Alevis in Germany, which will be followed on 1 January. September the Asure celebration follows. Dietz emphasized that the upcoming Alevi holidays focus on the suffering and hope of the people. On the feast of Asure, the faithful looked ahead: to a future in which the one human family leaves behind that which divides it. "In this sense, let us hope together for a future in which we can once again invite and visit each other at our festivals as a sign of unity and solidarity," Diez added.

More than half a million Alevis in Germany

Germany is home to between 500.000 to 800.000 Alevis, mostly of Turkish origin. They belong to a faith community that was founded in the 13. and 14. The Shiite branch of Islam developed in Anatolia in the sixteenth century. At the center of the esoterically influenced teaching, which does not follow any central dogma, are ethical aspects such as tolerance and love of humanity. Supreme goal of the believer is self-perfection and recognition of God in creation and in fellow man.

The Alevis reject the ritual worship of the majority Islam. Sharia regulations and the five pillars of Islam – such as the daily obligatory prayers or fasting in Ramadan – as well as the veiling of women, strict gender segregation and other aspects of Sharia play no role for them. Therefore Alevis are often exposed to severe persecution.

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