Alevi worship places to get public support in Istanbul, İzmir

Alevi worship places to get public support in Istanbul, İzmir

ISTANBUL/İZMİR – Demirören News Agency
Alevi worship places to get public support in Istanbul, İzmir

The city councils of Istanbul and the Aegean province of İzmir have decided to grant Alevi worship places, known as cemevi in Turkish, a legal status of “house of worship” in order to provide public services and discounts that are given to mosques, churches and synagogues.

A proposal submitted by İYİ (Good) Party and the Republican People’s Party (CHP) groups in Istanbul Municipal Council to give 93 cemevi buildings the status of “houses of worship” was supported by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) group.

After a unanimous vote, the proposal was sent to the commission on legal issues and social services to be turned to a formal bill.

Abstaining from giving Alevi worship places the public assistance that congregants of other religions enjoy violates the equality principle of the Turkish constitution and the decisions of the European Human Rights Court, while creating social discrimination, the proposal said.

It also recalled that the Court of Cassation and the Council of State have recognized cemevi buildings as worship places in their recent decisions.

In recent years, some municipalities in Istanbul assigned land to Alevi communities to build a cemevi, however, they stopped short of recognizing those buildings as worship places, often because of opposition from the ruling AKP.

In local elections on June 23, 2019, the main opposition CHP’s candidate Ekrem İmamoğlu won the race, ending the AKP rule in the metropolis. However, councilors of AKP and its main ally the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) still hold majority in the city assembly.

Meanwhile, the city council of İzmir officially accepted a proposal designating seven cemevi buildings as “houses of worship” in the zoning plans.

The majority of the İzmir municipal assembly, chaired by İzmir Mayor Tunç Soyer, voted in favor of recognizing Alevi worship places in the districts of Bornova, Aliağa, Bayraklı, Çiğli, Konak and Selçuk.

CHP councilors, holding the majority, and a councilor of the MHP voted in favor of the proposal, whereas AKP and other MHP councilors said “no.”