Project to build mosque and cemevi in same place draws contrasting reactions

Project to build mosque and cemevi in same place draws contrasting reactions

Project to build mosque and cemevi in same place draws contrasting reactions

Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen had said on June 19 via his website that mosques and cemevis may be constructed side by side in some regions, and that Sunnis and Alevis needed to have common places for use such as parks. AA photo

Several Alevi associations have criticized plans in Ankara to build an Alevi cemevi side by side with a Sunni mosque, describing the project as an attempt to “assimilate Alevis.” However, other Alevi associations have praise the project for “contributing to a culture of co-existance.”

“This is an assimilation project, aiming to melt Alevism down within ‘moderate political Islam,’” said a statement released on Sept. 11 and signed by Alevi associations including the Alevi Bektaşi Federation, the European Confederation of Alevi Associations, the Pir Sultan Abdal Culture Associations, the Şahkulu Sultan Foundation, the Hubyar Sultan Alevi Culture Association and the Association to Revive Hacıbektaş Culture.

“The project mentions ‘conciliating Alevis and Sunnis,’ but Alevi and Sunni communities do not have any serious problems with each other,” said the statement, adding that Alevis demanded rights from the state, not from Sunnis.

However, striking a different note, the Irmak Alevi Bektaşi Association head Ali Yücel said on Sept. 11 that they supported the project and believed that it would contribute to the “co-existence culture” in the country.

“Defining this as an assimilation project is an insult to Alevis in my opinion. Because we have many beauties and values to share, we do not have any doubts about our values. So why would we be assimilated?” said Yücel, according to Anadolu Agency. He also accused those criticizing the project of having “marginalized ideologies with no connection to Alevi or Sunni communities.”

Yücel also said his association was not disturbed by the Hizmet movement’s involvement in the project. 

An Alevi cemevi, a Sunni mosque and a public soup kitchen will be constructed side by side in Ankara with financing from the movement of Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, Cem Foundation chairman İzzettin Doğan announced on Sept. 1. Doğan said Gülen had proposed the idea to him via a mutual friend, and that they had responded positively to the proposal.