Kazakh, Qazaqi in Türkiye (Turkey)

Send Joshua Project a map of this people group.
People Name: Kazakh, Qazaqi
Country: Türkiye (Turkey)
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 40,000
World Population: 16,897,900
Primary Language: Kazakh
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 0.10 %
Evangelicals: 0.03 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: Yes
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Kazakh
Affinity Bloc: Turkic Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Kazakhs of Turkey once inhabited the Xinjiang-Uyghur Autonomous Region also called East Turkestan. It is now part of northwestern China. The initial cause of the Kazakhs' migration was Sun Yat-Sen's Chinese revolution in 1911 that established China's tight control over East Turkestan. There was pressure and persecution from the central government, an increase in taxes for indigenous people, and confiscation of their property. The Kazakhs were not allowed to study in their language. The oppressive regime made the Kazakhs rebel and leave their homeland. The first migration took place in the 1930s and the second came because of the 1949 Communist Revolution. These Kazakhs went to many countries, but Turkey was among their best choices. Over the decades, most Kazakh families left rural areas in Turkey and moved to bigger cities, most of them choosing Istanbul. Kazakhs living in Zeytinburnu constitute the biggest number of Kazakhs living in Turkey and many still live in the cities of Salihli and Manisa. There is also a small village in Ni?de province habited by Kazakhs which is now called Altay village.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Kazakhs came to Turkey as iskanl? göçmenler (settled/privileged migrants). The iskanl? göçmenler are defined as immigrants and refugees that could be accepted in Turkey as those of Turkish descent and who are tied to Turkish culture. Today, they call themselves Turk or Kazakh-Turk. Soon after their arrival, Kazakhs received Turkish citizenship. Moreover, they were exempted from taxes for five years. The young men were also exempted from military service until securing their family's financial income. They were provided food and board until they were given land, housing and financial aid for setting up business. Kazakhs were hosted in refugee camps in Istanbul and later were allocated to different rural parts of Turkey. Being hard workers, Kazakhs did seasonal work like picking grapes and fruit. They also attended vocational training including carpet weaving, clothes making, carpentry and cabinet making including Turkish language courses for both children and adults. Later, Kazakhs became involved in leather industry. The most successful ones began to open small workshops and later ran factories sewing leather clothes that were sold not only in Turkey, but also overseas. Leather factories operated as family businesses and they continue to be so to this day. The first-generation Kazakhs demonstrated their gratitude through hard work and by being a law-abiding citizen. According to many Kazakhs, another way of thanking the host country is to support the political visions of the government that allowed them to settle legally in Turkey. They believe that AKP represents the continuation of the Demokrat Parti, the party that accepted Kazakhs to Turkey as refugees. As a result, many old and young Kazakhs support AKP because they are expected to do so. This loyalty to a particular political party is changing with the younger generation of Kazakhs in Turkey. Today Kazakhs have become urban dwellers and lead almost the same lifestyles as the local Turks. Except a few elderly people, most do not speak the Kazakh language, do not lead a nomadic life, and do not live in yurts. They are now fully assimilated and absorbed into the Turkish culture. Until recent decades, among the first and 1. 5 generations, there were no Kazakh women who married outside of Kazakh community. In the 1950s-60s the elders considered that if Kazakh woman married a man from different ethnic group, she would stop being Kazakh. However, this rule was not applied to Kazakh men; from the time of leaving East Turkestan, they always had freedom to marry foreign women. Today there are many cases of Kazakh women in Istanbul marrying Turkish men. Betashar (Opening the face of the Bride), is one of the few Kazakh traditions that they still practice in Turkey. Skilled musicians play the dombyra and sing betashar. However, the dombyra itself has almost vanished from the public life and there are far fewer people who actually know to play. Dombyra and yurts are now symbols of Kazakh culture much like a cowboy hat would be in the US. The Kazakh community is united when it comes to the funerals and weddings in Istanbul. Commemorating and venerating clan ancestors through lavish ceremonies are fashionable and considered prestigious deeds. Kazakh clans use these ceremonies to consolidate their position and power within community. The Kazakh-Turkish Fund, Fund for Support of Social and Cultural Development of the Turks, Ahmet Yassawi Fund, and the Kazakh-Turkish Foundation for Education, Science and Research, aim to assist and solve the diaspora's urgent problems.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Kazakhs of Turkey establish their ethnic identity mainly by identifying themselves as Sunni Muslims. They usually fast in month of Ramadan. In this month, the Kazakh-Turks' Foundation distribute food packages to poor Uyghur and Kazakh families and organize iftars (sunset meal for fasters). During the Kazakh funerals and Friday prayers their Koran recitations end with imams dedicating the prayers to the people who perished in the long journey, and called them shehits, religious martyrs. There is also Kazakh association in Turkey which focus on religious education of youth from Kazakhstan and other countries.

What Are Their Needs?

There is an increase in religious nationalism in Turkey which will impact Christ followers. This has led to fear among believers, and it is forcing many, including pastors and community leaders, to leave the country. Armenian and Assyrian (Syriac) churches face pressure and hostility in the south-eastern region of Turkey.

Prayer Points

Pray for Kazakh missionaries to willingly preach the gospel to Kazakhs in Turkey. Ask the Holy Spirit to open the hearts of Kazakhs so that they will be receptive to the gospel. Pray for love and courage for Christ followers who faithfully share the gospel with their Muslim neighbors. Pray for Kazakh believers to remain steadfast and be encouraged and empowered in their faith as they endure persecution from family and the community. Pray that the stifling and suspicious atmosphere for Christians in Turkey will change. Pray that foreign Christians will be granted favor in their residency applications and in ongoing appeals against residency bans. Pray for 'Open Doors', as they serve the persecuted church.

Text Source:   Joshua Project