This is the Arab Alawite Conference proclamation of outcome, the first conference of the ‘Arab Studies Series’.

10 December 2015 Thursday, 08:28

As of this weekend, we have come to the end of the Arab Alawite Conference and Workshop, which is the first part of the ‘Arab Studies Series’. This series is a first of its kind in the nation. On behalf of the Research Institute for the Middle Eastern Arab Peoples, I would like to present to you a summary of the proclamation of outcomes. First and foremost, I would like to stress how important it is to implement such a study here in Antakya, a geopolitically significant region in the Middle East, with an archaic history. As the Research Institute for the Middle Eastern Arab Peoples, we are well aware that this conference is only a beginning. The messages we received from our participants are crucial in determining the themes that need to be further discussed. We believe that any academic endeavor needs to be in-depth and inclusive. We have come a long way on the themes “Arab Alawism through a historical lens and identity preservation”, “The mother tongue problem in Arab Alawism and the relationship between mother tongue and religion”, “Secularism and the relationship between Arab Alawites and the state”, “Arab Alawism and Women”, thanks to the input and efforts of our participants during the workshops yesterday, and our guest speakers today. In the light of these developments, the outcomes of this conference are summed up as follows;

  1. It is the responsibility of individuals, associations and local government agencies to raise collective consciousness regarding language and culture, and conduct field studies.
  2. Narratives regarding the massacres, exiles, policies aimed towards Arab Alawites during the Ottoman and Republican eras are of high importance, considering “official” history has either ignored or distorted these realities.
  3. Arab Alawite families, parents, Quran teachers, and all individuals who are within the education process need to be trained. This training falls on the shoulders of academic organizations such as Arab Alawite associations and institutions.
  4. Arab Alawite youth should be encouraged to study in Arab Language and Literature departments and those who are already in the university should be directed towards a dual native language system.
  5. All neighborhoods should implement Arabic language courses, especially geared towards children.
  6. The process of political organization of Arab Alawites in Turkey needs to come full circle. To realize this goal, all Arab Alawite associations need to come together under one roof. This community feels the need to organize and co-struggle in order to stand on its own feet. These efforts are in its crawling stages. All organizations need to work together and create an overarching structure.
  7. In order for religious leaders also be regarded as opinion leaders, it is important for them to become well-equipped. By this we do not mean that religious figures are incompetent, but that we need to reach a certain standard and provide them with the resources needed so that they are able respond to the needs of the society. The dialogue between Arab Alawite youth, NGO representatives and religious leaders needs to be improved. The efforts towards preserving the reverence of religious leaders and improving their assets need to come from within the community, not from the outside.
  8. We also need to heighten our awareness regarding the changes within the cultural spectrum. Protecting Alawite values is in fact protecting our conscience.

When it comes to societal improvement, cultural richness and passing all these values onto coming generations, the role of women is invaluable. In line with the egalitarian approach within the Alawite society, it is important for women, who make up half of the population, to be subjects in all spaces of life.

  1. Women should learn Arabic. Arab Alawite women’s organization is important and should be improved. Arab women’s organization should aim to come together with other women’s organizations on both local and national levels.
  2. Women play an important role in the implementation of religious rituals. It would be more meaningful if women knew the history behind these rituals. Women’s existing religious duties in the Arab Alawite community should be facilitated.
  3. Statistical data can be gathered regarding women’s employment in areas with high populations of Arab Alawite women. Through such studies, we can map the socio-economic structure of Arab Alawite women and find solutions.
  4. Cultural, historical and sociological research geared towards Arab Alawites should be increased and women should be accounted for as agents of change.
  5. SOLIDARITY is our main predicate in performing our religious identity, carrying it to coming generations, and institutionalizing it within our community should be a coordination strategy.
  6. While learning about our history, we need to talk about the annexation as well. Despite what “official” history suggests, the annexation period has been problematic. We need to discuss our own history and rewrite it. We need to locate resources in other languages and translate them. We need to incorporate leaders such as Zeki Arsuzi and Mehmet Ali Zarka into our history. We, as Arab Alawites, are one of the most ancient peoples living in the Adana, Antakya and Mersin provinces of Turkey.
  7. The obligated religious course in schools needs to be discussed, as it facilitates assimilation. No effort should be held back in trying to abolish this course.
  8. Finally, we need to recognize that Arab Alawites are not alone in their struggle and coming together with other Alevi communities, religions and regional groups should be a main goal.

Thank you,