INTERVIEWS with Mr. KABARDEI ISMET

Could you tell us a little bit about yourself? (Your educational background and profession)
I graduated Industrial Vocational High school. I am 38-year-old and I’m married, have 3 children. I’m engaged in agriculture. –

Which tribe of Adyge-Abkhaz, are you belong to?
I am Kabardey from father-side, Abzakh mother-side.

How important is Circassian culture in your life?
I am a person who grew up in a Circassian environment since I was born. Being Circassian is indispensable for me.

How was the environment when you grew up in?
My family was religious, however not extremely. In addition, I’d describe that my environment as Turkish ultranationalist and Euroscepticism.

Were you raised religiously and to what extent?
Not exactly. Thanks to my Circassian parents, thus i wasn’t under the pressure about it compare with my friends their family. My father used to pray namaz at home, however didn’t force me for that. They’d just simply ask ” why don’t you go to the mosque on Fridays’?” rather than pressure from the people around me. Sometimes I was going on Friday, too. However, I don’t know any Qur’an verses while during the praying (namaz). To be honest, not only me but 50% percent of my friends at that time can not read the Qur’an, even they can not performing Namaz by selves. We just pretend praying and repeat the Hodja’s actions.

Why did you stop believing your ex religion?
As I said, I wasn’t truly Muslim it means it wasn’t hard for me to left Islam.

How affected your relationship with you family?
My wife already knew and she became to Jesus Christ Believer. My parents and relatives don’t know that, my acquaintances don’t know either. If they’d know this situation, they don’t allow to live here and people don’t grant us the serenity. In fact it’s ok for my parents and other relatives to know that, but as far as we concerned this situation may spread out, that’s why we couldn’t tell them. As you see, in this country, you can not say ”I belong to Alevi section in Islam” even let alone say, ‘I am a Christian”..no way. If you do that they’re going to put the sign on your door.

Are there things that you belive in but do not practice? (wearing Hijab, not communicate with women/men?)
Nope.

Did leaving Islam cause the problems in your family relationship?
It didn’t happen.

Have there been differences in your political aspects after the leaving Islam?
How’d you classify your political view? For years, I knew that Circassians a tribe of Turks. That’s why I got very involved with the Turkish ultranationalists. At first I’ve learned that Circassians have no related with Turkic origin. I kept away my searches from the Turkish nationalists. In time I accepted Christianity and now I’ve parted my way from Turkish ultranationalists. I keep going my life as a republicans.

As a person who raised in the Muslim community, have you encountered any “pressure”?
It wouldn’t say pressure, but you had to do with somethings that actually you didn’t want it. Like going to mosque on Fridays, not eating or drinking anything outside during Fasting . It happens all the time, as for me Fridays’ Prayer was done just because of this reason. Therefore you can get who is Muslim. For example fasting is not like that. Anyone can only come and see your house and see If you are fasting or not. In the contrary of Fridays’ prayer is not like that. This is the huge mistake if someone see you in the field or garden.

Have you researched the ex Muslims?
It’s not possible to knowing who converted here. Those who accepted Christianity are hide it like me. – Did you mention or hide to your convertion from your acquaintances? I hid it.

How did your family and friends respond to your separation from Islam?
My wife knows and she converted. My relatives and friends don’t know.

What would you recommend to those who want to become Christians but have retreated one way or another?
I feel like that I’m lucky. I advise everyone to be a Christian, even If in a secret way.

Do you leave a message for Circassian society?
Here, for Circassians, life is too hard. Already most of them are Turkish ultranationalist. They considered by some to Islamists, strict Erdoganist, conservative, pre-government supporter in right-wing. I don’t get along with them. I never get how a Circassian or a Kurdish can be Turkish ultranationalist. I don’t get it.

Thank you for sharing your ideas.
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