Cemevis exist, should have status: Minister
ISTANBUL – Radikal
“Cemevis actually exist. You cannot say there is no cemevi. So, if they exist and we accept this as the government and the state, their status should be determined and their needs should be fulfilled,” Minister Faruk Çelik told. DHA photoTurkey’s labor minister has suggested Alevi cemevis be granted a civilian status, contributing to the debate over whether to officially recognize them as houses of worship.
“Cemevis actually exist. You cannot say there is no cemevi. So, if they exist and we accept this as the government and the state, their status should be determined and their needs should be fulfilled,” Minister Faruk Çelik told daily Zaman columnist İsa Yazar.
But the minister said his call to identify the status of cemevis should not be tied to the question of recognizing them as places of worship.
Currently, the cemevi, which literally means a house of gathering, is not officially acknowledged as a place of worship despite persistent demands on the matter from the country’s Alevi community.
The official status of cemevis in Turkey is directly linked with the state’s perception of Alevism. “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,” the Turkish Parliament said in a statement released last December.
Referring to that discussion, Çelik said the issue of cemevis’ status should not be sacrificed for theological and legal disagreements.
“When we regard cemevis as a place of worship, a theological debate begins. From another perspective, when we say let’s find a deep legal solution, another discussion pivoting around the laws of the revolution starts. Both discussions haven’t generated any results,” he said.
Çelik’s proposal is based upon enabling cemevis to benefit from public aid and other advantages.
“Their needs should be fulfilled. Land allocation and fundraising opportunities should be provided for cemevis,” he said.
The status of cemevis was expected to be addressed in the democracy package unveiled by the prime minister last month, 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.
However, several government representatives said a separate package aimed at resolving the Alevi community’s problems was being prepared by the government.