Legal status to Alevi worship houses a ‘red line,’ says Turkey’s religious body head
AA photoGranting a legal status to Alevi worship houses, known as cemevis, is a “red line” for Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet), its head Mehmet Görmez has said, stating that “cemevis cannot be considered an alternative to mosques.”
“We cannot give a religious status to cemevis,” Görmez said, in an apparent step back for Ankara after the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) recent pledge to uphold the rights of Turkey’s Alevi citizens, thought to make up around 15 percent of the population.
Görmez, who is currently on an official trip to Saudi Arabia, described cemevis’ legal status as a “red line” for the Diyanet in an interview with daily Milliyet published on Jan. 2.
“We have always had two red lines and we have never abandoned them. The first is the definition of Alevism as a path outside Islam, which contradicts 1,000 years of history. The second is defining cemevis as alternatives to mosques as a place of worship,” he added.
On Dec. 10, 2015, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu outlined action plans that he said would fulfill pre-election promises to Alevis given by the AKP.
Among the reforms that Davutoğlu said would be concluded within the first three months of the government’s term was a pledge to grant legal status to traditional Alevi cultural centers and houses of worship, meaning that they would qualify for state funding like mosques.
Many Alevi citizens have long pressed the government to acknowledge cemevis as official houses of worship. However, the AKP’s new plan only underlines that a “legal status” will be granted to cemevis, so the government can help cover their logistical needs.