Appeals Court Refuses to Recognize Alevi Houses of Worship
Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals Wednesday ruled against a non-governmental organization (NGO) that builds “cem houses,” the traditional houses of worship for the country’s Alevi minority. Only mosques and masjids constitute proper houses of worship, the appeals court said in its verdict.
Ankara - Ağrı - BIA News Center
26 July 2012, Thursday
The Seventh Civil Chamber of the Supreme Court of Appeals overturned a local court decision on Wednesday and ruled against the Çankaya Cemevi Construction Association in a suit filed by the Ankara Chief Prosecutor's Office to shut the organization down.
The Çankaya Cemevi Construction Association's charter includes articles that run counter to Turkish laws, and the charter itself is therefore in conflict with current legislation, the appeals court said.
The Çankaya Cemevi Construction Association is engaged in the construction of "Cem Houses," the places of worship where members of Turkey's historically persecuted Alevi minority perform their religious rites.
The Supreme Court of Appeals further argued that no place other than a mosque or a masjid could be recognized as a house of worship in the verdict that it passed through a majority vote.
The Ankara Chief Prosecutor's Office had filed the suit against the Çankaya Cemevi Construction Association on the grounds that the organization's charter referred to Alevi cem houses as houses of worship. A local court, however, had rejected the case file, but the Supreme Court of Appeals has now agreed with the prosecution to press charges against the defendants.
Veli Ağbaba, a deputy of the main opposition People's Republican Party (CHP) from the eastern province of Malatya, had also issued a Parliamentary question to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan several days ago regarding the quantity and distribution of cem houses across Turkey over the years.
Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek had also sparked some controversy when he rejected a proposal earlier this month by CHP deputy Hüseyin Aygün to open a cem house in Parliament. Çiçek had cited a "fatwa" (religious decree) issued by the Directorate of Religious Affairs which stated that mosques constitute the sole proper houses of worship in the Islamic faith of which the Alevis were a part. (YY)