US embassy cable - 06TIRANA657

WORLD BEKTASHI LEADER INVITED TO TURKEY: RECONCILIATION AFTER 85 YEARS?

Identifier: 06TIRANA657
Wikileaks: View 06TIRANA657 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Tirana
Created: 2006-06-19 16:31:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Tags: PREL PGOV PINR AL
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
VZCZCXYZ0005
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTI #0657 1701631
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 191631Z JUN 06
FM AMEMBASSY TIRANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4447
INFO RUEHTH/AMEMBASSY ATHENS 2934
RUEHBW/AMEMBASSY BELGRADE 2731
RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 0675
RUEHVJ/AMEMBASSY SARAJEVO 0449
RUEHSQ/AMEMBASSY SKOPJE 4127
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 0828
RHMFISS/COMSOCEUR VAIHINGEN GE
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RUEHVEN/USMISSION USOSCE 2171
RUEHPS/USOFFICE PRISTINA 3435
UNCLAS TIRANA 000657 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR EUR/SCE (MBENEDICT) 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PINR, AL 
SUBJECT: WORLD BEKTASHI LEADER INVITED TO TURKEY: 
RECONCILIATION AFTER 85 YEARS? 
 
1. (SBU) On June 12, Bulent Arinc, head of the Turkish 
parliament, visited the world headquarters of Bektashism in 
Tirana, Albania. Arinc invited Reshat Bardhi, head of the 
World Bektashi Community, to come to Turkey to participate in 
a Bektashi feast August 16. This would be the first official 
contact between Turkey and the particularly liberal Bektashi 
sect of Shia Islam since it was driven out of Turkey 85 years 
ago. According to Rasim Hasanaj, Head of the Albanian Cults 
Committee, this overture was a step towards reconciliation 
with Bektashism and was aimed at sending a political message 
to the European Union that Turkey supported religious 
tolerance. 
 
2. (SBU) Ilir Dedej, Director of Foreign Relations of the 
Bektashi Community, said that relations between the Turkish 
government and the Bektashi Community began to improve last 
year with the appointment of Suphan Erkula, the current 
Turkish ambassador to Albania. According to Dedej, there are 
some 2 million Bektashis in Turkey and Erkula is of Bektashi 
heritage. Erkula made a personal visit to the Bektashi world 
headquarters and later arranged for the Turkish Minister of 
Culture to visit the Bektashi World Congress in December 
2005. Dedej said that although Bardhi had visited Turkey 
unofficially three times in the past, this would be his first 
official visit as the head of the World Bektashi 
organization. The Bektashis have accepted the invitation, in 
principle, and the two sides are working together to finalize 
the details of the visit. 
RIES 

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