Gov't to amend law on dervish lodges, grant status to Alevi cemevis

However, according to the law on dervish lodges, Law No. 677, no dervish lodges -- closed down in 1925 following the foundation of the Turkish Republic -- are allowed to function in Turkey.

Gov't to amend law on dervish lodges, grant status to Alevi cemevis

As part of an initiative launched by the government to address the problems of the people of the Alevi faith in Turkey, the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government plans to amend a law on dervish lodges in order to be able to grant legal status to Alevi places of worship, known as cemevis, the Sabah daily reported on Monday.

Following consultations with Alevi groups, the government has decided to give priority to granting status to cemevis and dedes (a religious figure of an Alevi community) and providing public funding to them.

However, according to the law on dervish lodges, Law No. 677, no dervish lodges -- closed down in 1925 following the foundation of the Turkish Republic -- are allowed to function in Turkey. But for cemevis to remain active as religious and cultural centers they will have to be considered outside the scope of the law or the law needs to be amended.

The law bans the functioning of all Muslim religious places other than mosques in addition to banning all Muslim religious titles.

By amending this law, the government aims to remove these bans. Since the law was prepared by Turkey's founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, and has a symbolic importance to this effect, the government plans to have consultations with the opposition parties and civil society and aims to come up with the new law in October, when Parliament returns from summer recess.

In remarks to the daily on the issue, Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ said there is no need to ban dervish lodges in today's Turkey.

“We have overcome the fears of the past. Without amending this law, all the steps to be taken will be null and void,” Bozdağ said, adding that the law on dervish lodges is at the root of all the problems faced by Alevis.

The law banning dervish lodges was enacted as part of efforts to secularize the administration in the early years of the republic and out of fears that religious groups could interfere in state affairs.

The country's Alevi population, estimated to be around 10 million, uses cemevis rather than mosques as centers of worship and prayer. While the government does not formally recognize the status of cemevis as houses of worship, state leaders have given them implicit recognition with visits -- including a cemevi visit by President Abdullah Gül in the predominately Alevi city of Tunceli in 2009. In Turkey today, there are more than 400 cemevis, while the number was 106 when the AK Party first came to power in 2002. “In our term, about 300 cemevis have been built,” Bozdağ recently said in Tokat.

Alevis, who have been saying for years that they do not enjoy full rights as citizens nor do they receive equal treatment from the state, were deeply hurt by a recent announcement that the third bridge to be built over the Bosporus would be named after Yavuz Sultan Selim, an Ottoman sultan who allegedly ordered the execution of tens of thousands of Alevis in Anatolia in the 16th century.

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Güncelleme Tarihi: 02 Temmuz 2013, 09:51
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