The Alevi are a salient aspect to the troubles in Turkey. The Gezi park area is an area inhabited by a large community of Alevis. Some years ago a series of drive- by shootings left a number of Alevis dead in that area. The Alevis tend to be more secular and have been relatively quiet until the past decade.
Two events had precipitated in a more militant Alevi community. One is the gradual Islamization of Turkey by the Erdogan regime. They are about 20-25 % of the population. Although they are not really Shi’a, like the Shi’a in many parts of the Middle East, their activism has been triggered by the Sunni Islamic “revival,” a revival accompanied by radical Sunni beliefs that the Shi’a are worse than infidels.
A second reason is the hubris with which Ergdogan stuck his feet in the Syrian tar baby. The Alevi, who live mostly near the Syrian border, resent the mass of Sunni refugees creating problems in their communities.
Moreover they have sympathy for the Alawi minority of Syria, the core of Assd’s support. If there is anything good about the Syrian tragedy it is the dose of reality brought home to Erdogan and his neo-Ottoman pretensions.
This prattle about Erdogan as the model for “Islamic democracy” banded about by many in academia and the US government, as I wrote long ago, can hopefully be buried. I have always been great admirer of the Turkish military but the gradual Islamization is destroying the progressive Turkey began under the forceful leadership of Kemal Ataturk.