Alevis fire at government in ongoing cemevi quarrel
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Alevi leaders have harshly criticized senior government officials for arguing that Alevis should pray in mosques, noting that the community’s cemevis are a sine qua non for the group.
“Alevis never discuss this issue among themselves: Our worship place is the cemevi, and we are all clear on this issue. Our understanding of Islam is different to Bekir Bozdağ’s understanding of Islam. This is why the Alevis have been massacred for centuries in these lands,” Ali Kenanoğlu, a prominent figure in the Turkish Alevi community and leader of the Hubyar Sultan Alevi Cultural Association, told the Hürriyet Daily News on July 11 after Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ had said Alevism was an interpretation within Islam and that Alevis were are all Muslims.
“The place of worship for all Muslims around the world is the same; their common house of worship is the mosque,” Bozdağ said.
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Hüseyin Aygün had applied to the Parliamentary Speaker’s Office on July 7 for a cemevi to be established in Parliament. In his refusal, Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek also said the house of worship for Islam was the mosque, adding: “Alevism is not a separate religion.”
Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç also lent strong support to Çiçek.
“The majority of Alevis do not consider Alevism to be a different religion and live according to that belief. We’d better look at the teaching in Islam that considers Alevism as having been within the Islamic religion for centuries, rather than a deputy’s words,” Arınç said July 11 in Ankara.
In response, Kenanoğlu said: “They are trying to make us discuss our houses of worship, but we will not be deceived. Cemevis are our houses of worship and we won’t discuss this. This is not a theological discussion, this is about freedom of religion.”
Attacking the government’s democratic credentials, Kenanoğlu said, “The AKP’s ‘progressive democracy’ is like the tolerance of the Ottomans: They are both huge lies.”
Kemal Bülbül, the chairman of another Alevi organization, the Pir Sultan Abdal Culture Association (PSAKD), said AKP authorities were forcing Alevis to go to mosques and deny their own beliefs in the same way that they did during Ottoman times.
“We want cemevis, because cemevis are our houses of worship. However, they are playing an underhand game by preventing us from carrying out our most natural human right,” Bülbül said.