Alevis in Germany’s Bremen win equal status as other religious communities
In an Ankara rally organized by the Alevi associations’ call on Oct. 12, protesters rallied against the ISIL attacks and violation of educational rights.Alevis in the German state of Bremen have gained an equal legal status as Christians and Jews after signing an official contract.
Bremen’s Alevis have signed an “Equality of Rights Agreement” with the Bremen state government that will grant Alevis important rights such as officially celebrating religious holidays, being exempt from compulsory religion classes at schools and educating clerics.
The contract is the third contract to have been signed by Alevis with a German state authority, after a contract with Hamburg and a preliminary contract with Lower Saxony were also signed.
The agreement was signed in the Bremen Municipality building by Bremen Mayor Jens Böhrsen, the Federation of Alevi Unions in Germany (AABF) Head Hüseyin Mat, AABF Belief Board President Cafer Kaplan, and Confederation of European Alevi Unions (AABK) Head Turgut Öker.
Around 10,000 Alevi origin citizens live in Bremen and around 800,000 live in Germany as a whole.
Böhrsen said the Alevi religion had gained the same legal status as Christianity and Judaism with the official agreement.
AABK Head Öker said gaining the legal status was a significant win for the Alevi community and that this right came as a result of teaching Alevism in schools for 12 years, Doğan News Agency reported.
“These rights are granted to all institutions that fit in and support Germany’s legal structure and social life. We have gained the first results of our efforts by giving Alevism classes at schools for 12 years,” said Öker, adding that such agreements allow religious beliefs to come under the state’s protection and grant them legal rights.
Among the rights that Alevis have achieved with the agreement include taking unpaid leave during religious holidays, being exempt from compulsory religion classes at school, building Alevi worship places (cemevis), conducting funerals according to religious rules, providing religious services at hospitals and prisons, training clerics, opening Alevism chairs at universities, and being represented at the state media council.
In a Sept. 16 ruling, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that the Turkish education system is “still inadequately equipped to ensure respect for parents’ convictions” and therefore violates the “right to education,” in a case that stemmed from Alevi complaints about mandatory religious classes.