Mosque in eastern Turkey turns into Alevi house of worship
İsmail Saymaz ERZİNCAN - Radikal
The locals are holding their first cem in a mosque in their neigborhood on the first day of Eid al-Fitr as it corresponded to Thursday, the day when Alevis traditionally conducted religious rituals. Radikal photoA mosque in the eastern province of Erzincan is now being used as a cemevi, an Alevi house of worship, after the imam of the rarely used mosque left the village, which is populated by Alevi citizens.
Imams posted to the mosque, which was built in Erzincan’s Refahiye district after the military coup in 1980 as part of the state’s Sunnization policies, had made their prayers alone due to a lack of any Sunni villagers in the area, Istanbul-based Kürelik Village Association head Haydar Kement said.
Authorities attempted to erect a minaret for the mosque three months ago but were forced to back down after demonstrations and petitions from locals, Kement said.
The imam left the village soon afterward, he added.
The empty mosque was turned into a cemevi after the imam’s departure, and now features a picture of Ali, the nephew of the Prophet Muhammad.
The first cem was held on the first day of Eid al-Fitr as it corresponded to Thursday, the day when Alevis traditionally conducted religious rituals.
‘Nobody but imams enter these mosques’
There are many other mosques in this situation, Kement said. “Nobody but imams enter these mosques.”
The majority of the Alevi community in Turkey claims they do not have the freedom to worship, citing an absence of legal statuses for cemevis as the most important problem for their community.
An official statement from Turkish Parliament rejected the notion that cemevis constitute houses of worship and called on Alevis to go to mosques in December 2012.
“It is not possible to consider cemevis places of worship, because Alevism, as part of Islam, cannot have a place of worship other than mosques and masjids,” the Turkish Parliament had said in a statement.
Similarly, Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals ruled on July 25, 2012, that only mosques and masjids could be considered places of worship, overruling a request to register a cemevi in Ankara as a house of worship despite the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) opposing verdicts.
The ECHR says only the believers of a particular faith are fit to decide what is a place of worship.