Cemevi dispute to be taken to court
CHP Tunceli MP Aygün sues Speaker’s Office for violating religious rights.Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Tunceli deputy Hüseyin Aygün has sued the Parliament Speaker’s Office for violating the freedom of religion and conscience as well as the principle of secularity by rejecting his request for a cemevi (Alevi house of worship) to be opened at Parliament.
Aygün yesterday submitted his petition to a court of first instance in his hometown of Tunceli so that it can be forwarded to an administrative court on duty in Ankara.
Stating that he is a parliamentarian who follows “Alevi-Bektaşi-Kızılbaş” belief, Aygün stated that the Parliament Speaker’s Office had refused on July 6 his request dated May 7, on the grounds that “Alevism is not a separate religion, but a formation within Islam, and the place of worship in Islam is the mosque.” The refusal is not compatible with freedom of religion and conscience, and also violates the principle of secularity, all of which are protected by the Constitution, Aygün’s petition claims.
Furthermore, Parliament Speaker’s Office’s decision also violates Article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights, covering the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, it says.
“For all of these reasons, I ask for annulment of the Parliament Speaker’s Office’s refusal,” Aygün said.
Parliament has had a mosque since 1989, but no other religious buildings are located on its premises.
Alevism is widely perceived as a liberal sect of Islam, although a few characterize it as a belief system separate from Islam. Alevis, who are described as followers of the Caliph Ali, the nephew and son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad, display religious practices distinct from Turkey’s Sunni majority.
The Alevi worship ceremony is called a “cem,” and is traditionally held in a cemevi, while Sunnis worship in a mosque. Unlike most other Muslim practices, Alevi rituals are conducted mostly in Turkish. The ceremony features music and dance called the “semah.” The order founded on the teachings of Hacı Bektaş Veli is called “Bektaşi,” while the term “Kızılbaş” usually refers to the Alevi Kurds of Dersim.