Alevi Pomak in Evros: "Our grandparents were Greeks but suddenly Ankara thinks we're Turks?"


Zeki is an Alevi and the guardian of Teke of Roussa. He was the one who gave me the clearest and most angry answer when I asked if Alevi's were a "Turkish or Muslim community."

"Is it possible for you to ask me something like that after what we said? Do you want to fight? Is it possible for you to talk to me about a Turkish community?" Zeki said.

The Alevis are one of the pieces that make Thrace the mosaic it is and certainly one of minority groups that recognise the freedom given to them by the Greek state.

When asked what they need from the state, Zeki answered "more Greek public schools. The first thing that needs to be done is education."

"We do not have Greek public schools here," he added.

I asked if the minority families would prefer them, if they would choose to send the children there and not to the minority schools.

"How could we not? In order to go to High School and Lyceum, they have to go to the public school and the children work hard.

"They do not know Greek well.

"And all this is important for them to be able to move forward."

"Many were forced to leave, to go to Orestiada, Alexandroupolis, Didymoteicho."

Zeki dreamed of becoming a border guard. He now lives in Tekke with his family and has three daughters.

"Here the people are Thracians with families that have centuries of history," he stressed.

"They lived here. They are the purest Thracians.

"Both of my grandparents were national guards.

"Our grandparents were Greeks and we suddenly became Turks?"

To the Alevis, Ankara's influence is rather non-existent.

The presence of the Foreign Minister in Tekke on the World Human Rights Day was considered as a message to everyone, that the Greek state protects the Alevis.

We arrived at the Tekke of Roussa, or rather the Tekke of Seyit Ali Sultan, on Friday afternoon.

In the mountains of Evros is a place of worship, a monument sacred to the Alevis, a place of dervish gatherings, the place of worship of the Alevis. It dates back to around 1400 and they only ask for its recognition by the Greek state as an official place of worship.

"The situation for our community is very good. We have the right to express ourselves freely," he emphasised.

"I think the way has been paved for us to create beautiful things," he said on the occasion of the recognition of Cem Evi of the Alevis in the Great Derio, which created anticipation for more.

He came to Teke for Dendias' visit since his wife, the "president", as they call Hairige, is the head of the Cultural Association of Megalo Derios, where many women from the village are active.

I ask about the Alevis in Turkey, but he said "unfortunately they also have their problems."

Regarding their relationship with other Muslims, he said: "We live very peacefully with the Sunnis, we have nothing to separate us, and I must emphasise this. We have 35 children at school, but it continues, more are coming."

I asked what must the state do to keep the village alive.

"The village can be held for another 20 years. But the state must open jobs and help families. Immigrants leave for the Netherlands, Germany and leave their families behind. Women become both father and mother. They keep the houses. They keep the family."

Alexandra Fotaki is a correspondent for In

READ MORE: Dendias visits Alevi house in Thrace.

Guest Contributor

This piece was written for Greek City Times by a Guest Contributor