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RELIGION AND ETHNICITY: COMMUNITY FORMATION IN THE BRITISH ALEVI COMMUNITY

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The article explores the Alevi community, a little-studied Muslim-influenced heterogeneous religious tradition whose roots are in Eastern Turkey, and provides recent fieldwork of the Alevi presence in London which has appeared through migration since the 1980s. This community development is compared with the older Alevi community in Istanbul. The intention is to use the high number of Alevis who live in diaspora communities to analyse the relationship between religion and ethnicity. The author argues, that even though the Alevi revival that has manifested since the 1990s and in which Alevi youth participate visibly, appears to be cultural rather than religious, closer examination of Alevi religious traditions indicates that the forms taken by the revival have their roots in traditional Alevi spiritual beliefs and practices in which values of tolerance, heterodoxy, freedom and justice prevail. The article concludes that although Alevi youth appear to be diverging significantly from their Sunni Muslim counterparts in their respective identity quests, religion plays a significant role for both although the manifestations of revival are almost diametrically opposed. This can be explained by the different manifestations of belief and practice in each community.

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