Political · Religion · Turkey

Religious mob sets fire to hotel, killing 37

July 2, 1993
Sivas, Turkey
A mob sets fire to a hotel, killing 37 including 2 members of the mob and injuring at least 51

The mob, who were Sunni Muslims, set the hotel on fire for unspecified reasons after attending Friday prayers. The Turkish government believed the attack was directed at Aziz Nesin who had been attempting to publish The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie in Turkey. Others have theorized the attack was directed at Alevi Muslims who had gathered at the hotel.

A total of 190 people were arrested for the attack, and 124 were charged with “attempting to establish a religious state by changing the constitutional order.” Thirty-seven defendants were acquitted, 33 were sentenced to death, and the remainder of defendants were given sentences between 2 – 15 years. Turkey overturned the death penalty a year after the death sentences were issued, and the death sentences were commuted. Those condemned to die were instead given 35 life sentences each, one for each murdered victim plus additional time for other various crimes. The hotel has since been renovated and turned into a museum and memorial.

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