Parliament Speaker Rejects Alevi Proposal on Religious Grounds
Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek rejected a proposal by opposition People’s Republican Party (CHP) deputy Hüseyin Aygün to open a “cem house” (Alevi house of worship) in Parliament, citing a “fatwa” (religious decree) issued by the Directorate of Religious Affairs.
Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek rejected a proposal by Hüseyin Aygün, a deputy of the main opposition People's Republican Party (CHP) from the eastern province of Tunceli, to open a "cem house" (Alevi house of worship) in Parliament, citing claims by the Directorate of Religious Affairs that the Alevi faith constitutes a formation that falls under the umbrella of Islam and that mosques are the proper houses of worship for all Muslims.
Deputy Aygün responded by issuing a press release entitled "Is it religion, Parliament, 'fatwas' or social needs that constitute the source of national will?"
"To tell Alevis to go to the mosque is to mock them"
Parliament Speaker Çiçek relegated the matter to the Directorate of Religious Affairs as soon as his proposal reached Parliament's presidency, according to Aygün. This lays bare the the directorate's imposition of its role as a source of authority and reference in the area of religion and its grasp over all state institutions, and primarily over Parliament which represents the national will, he added.
Çiçek waited for two months before responding to his proposal for the Religious Affairs' "fatwa" to arrive, Aygün said, adding that the Directorate of Religious Affairs did not represent the center of reference for Turkey's Alevi minority.
"The Directorate of Religious Affairs is a reactionary and outdated institution that has been trying to assimilate Alevis and which needs to be abolished. There is not a single Alevi among its hundreds of thousands of employees. The 'fatwas' issued by the Religious Affairs do not concern the Alevis. Parliament asking the Religious Affairs Directorate about a matter regarding the Alevi faith is akin to 'handing the sheep over to the wolf,'" he said.
"The Religious Affairs said with respect to our proposal that the Alevi faith '[represents] a wealth of Islam's [diversity] and that mosques are the [proper] places of worship for all Muslims. The millions of Alevis in Turkey never asked the Religious Affairs about where to worship. To still tell the Alevis to go to the mosque in 2012 is to openly mock them, after they have [chosen] to go to 'cem houses' rather than mosques for centuries despite massacres, insults and policies of assimilation and neglect," deputy Aygün said.
"Are the Religious Affairs' resources religiously permissible?"
CHP deputy Aygün further added that the government ought to give up its efforts to define the Alevis and their faith and state its opinion instead as to whether it does not constitute a 'haram' (religiously forbidden) act to transfer record levels of resources to the Religious Affairs Directorate solely for the benefit of the Sunni sect, in spite of the fact that those resources emanate from tax revenues collected from Muslims, Christians, Jews, gnostics, agnostics, theists, atheists, mystics, Shiites, Alevis, the religious, the irreligious and other groups who all contribute to the Gross National Product.
"It is Parliament or the Directorate of Religious Affairs that governs Turkey? Is it religion or the needs of a certain section of society that constitute the source of Parliament's decisions? Is it the "fatwa" issued by the reactionary and outdated Religious Affairs that constitute the [proper] response to a deputy of Parliament? What if this deputy does not recognize your 'fatwa?'" he said.
"Despite your efforts to deny and assimilate the Alevi faith for centuries, millions of Alevis today will continue battling against your reactionism as before! Don't you ever forget, the Alevi faith is a religion, its [form of] worship is the 'cem,' and its house of worship is a 'cem house,'" Aygün said. (EKN)
Ankara - BIA News Center
10 July 2012, Tuesday