Speaker Çiçek nixes cemevi in Parliament

Speaker Çiçek nixes cemevi in Parliament

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Speaker Çiçek nixes cemevi in Parliament

The house of worship for Islam is the mosque, Cemil Çiçek says. AA photo

Parliamentary Speaker Cemil Çiçek has rejected a request that a cemevi, the Alevi house of worship, be established on Parliament’s premises on the grounds that “Alevism is not a separate religion.”

“According to the Directorate of Religious Affairs, Alevism is not a separate religion but a formation within Islam, and a richness of Islam that arose within the historical process. Hence, the house of worship for Islam is the mosque,” Çiçek said in response to main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Hüseyin Aygün’s appeal.

Aygün applied to the Parliament Speaker’s Office on May 7 asking for a cemevi to be established on Parliament.

“In order to ensure equality in freedom of conscience and religious rights, a cemevi is needed for people of the Alevi faith to worship,” Aygün wrote in his application, noting that Parliament hosted 550 lawmakers, as well as thousands of assistants, advisors and guests every day.

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, though a few portray it as a belief separate from Islam.

Alevis, who are described as followers of the Caliph Ali, the nephew and son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad, display distinct religious practices from Turkey’s Sunni majority. The Alevi worship is called a cem, which is traditionally held in the 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.”