PM cancels scheduled iftar dinner for Alevi community

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Turkish Prime Minister and the leader of Turkey's ruling party, the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Binali Yildirim delivers a speach during an AK Party's group meeting at the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM) in Ankara, on October 11, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / ADEM ALTAN

Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım, who invited Alevis from various associations for a fast-breaking [iftar] dinner in İstanbul on Monday evening on the occasion of the Islamic month of Muharram, cancelled the event on Sunday, citing a scheduling conflict, the Cumhuriyet daily reported on Tuesday.

The Muharram, or Alevi, fast, is generally held in the first 12 days of the month of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar, when Shiites and Alevis commemorate the Battle of Karbala.

The venue of the iftar dinner was to have been the prime ministry office at Dolmabahçe Palace. Yıldırım reportedly cancelled the event with the excuse that he had to attend an energy conference on Monday; however, the conference date was set months in advance, and Yıldırım would have had time to travel to Dolmabahçe to attend the dinner following the conference.

No other day has been set for the cancelled iftar dinner.

Some Alevi figures have said the iftar could have been cancelled because Yıldırım might have received an order from “above,” an apparent reference to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

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