Alevi cemevis places of worship, no matter what state says: Minister
Ömer Şahin ANKARA - Radikal
Customs Minister Hayati Yazıcı has said cemevis could benefit from the public advantages that other houses of worship like mosques have been already granted, without a need for a change in the law. AA photoCustoms Minister Hayati Yazıcı has opposed his own government’s refusal to recognize Alevi cemevis as places of worship, saying it was not the state’s job to define the status of religious spaces.
“In my opinion, if our Alevi citizens call a cemevi a house of worship, they shall call it. I don’t think it’s the state’s right to call what is a place of worship and what is not. Individuals and the community decide that,” Yazıcı told daily Radikal in an interview published today.
While recalling that a package aimed at resolving the Alevi community’s problems was being prepared by the government separate from the recently unveiled democracy package, the minister demonstrated his different stance from his party’s general stance on the cemevi issue.
Yazıcı said cemevis could benefit from the public advantages that other houses of worship like mosques have been already granted, without a need for a change in the law.
In a statement released last December, the Turkish Parliament said, “It is not possible to consider cemevis as places of worship, because Alevism, as part of Islam, cannot have a place of worship other than mosques and masjids.”
Similarly, Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals ruled on July 25, 2012, that only mosques and masjids could be considered places of worship, overruling a request to register a cemevi in Ankara as a house of worship despite opposing verdicts from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
The ECHR said only the believers of a particular faith were fit to decide what a place of worship is.
The status of cemevis was expected to be addressed in the democracy package disclosed by the prime minister on Sept. 30, but the Alevi community expressed disappointment that the only measure for them was the decision to rename Nevşehir University as Hacı Bektaşi Veli University after a 13th-century Alevi philosopher.
Alevis had not previously demanded that the university be renamed.