Members of the Alevi community in Turkey’s Malatya province have voiced concern after at least thirteen of their houses were allegedly marked with red cross by unknown people.

Red crosses marked with red paint were spotted on the outside walls and doors of several households belonging to Alevi people in the Cemal Gürsel neighbourhood of Malatya.

Tensions between the Alevi and Sunni communities in Turkey date back to Ottoman times. In 1511, the Ottoman army brutally suppressed a revolt by the Kızılbaş Turkmens of the Alevi faith on Anatolian soil, and as many as 40,000 were killed.

The Battle of Çaldıran, fought between the Ottoman Empire under Yavuz Sultan Selim and Safavid Shah Ismail in 1514, resulted in the sultan issuing an edict to kill all the Kızılbaş in the region.

During the Turkish republican era, hundreds of Alevis were killed in pogroms, which many now believe were masterminded by groups inside the state, in the cities of Çorum, Yozgat and Kahramanmaraş in the 1970s. Thirty-four Alevi intellectuals were burned to death in 1992 inside the Madımak Hotel in Sivas. In other incidents, such as in İstanbul’s predominantly Alevi Gazi neighborhood in 1995, Alevis were targeted by individuals armed with machine guns.