BY DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL NOV 16, 2022
The Turkish Parliament approved legislation containing important amendments for funding Alevi houses of worship (cemevis).
The omnibus bill, which also had provisions on financial assistance for families of mine disaster victims, was accepted by lawmakers at the General Assembly on Wednesday.
The law allows provincial directorates to construct, maintain and repair sites, including historical and cultural properties, as well as cemevis.
The Alevi houses of worship will also be entitled to receive discounted or free access to water, provided by municipalities and their subsidiaries.
The power expenses of cemevis will be subsidized by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, according to the new law.
Noting that this will mark the first time Alevi houses of worship will receive official state funding, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) Group Deputy Chairperson Yılmaz Tunç said the new regulations deserve praise, as he criticized lawmakers who voted against the legislation.
Earlier this month, Türkiye established the Cemevi Presidency to address Alevi citizens’ problems.
The government has taken action to address the needs of the community. Under the coordination of the Interior and Culture and Tourism Ministries, all 1,585 cemevis in the country were visited by officials.
As a result of the visits, officials came across 8,740 demands and have already responded to 5,600 of them.
Both ministries have also sped up work to address other demands of Alevi citizens.
Alevis, who make up the second-largest religious community in the country with approximately 20 million followers, have a list of concerns about various issues, including the public recognition of their identity, the legal status of cemevis and funding, as well as the prerogative for Alevi students to be excluded from compulsory religion classes in elementary and high schools.
The cemevis are currently regarded as foundations under the Interior and Culture and Tourism Ministries, rather than recognized as houses of worship, which would legally entitle them to receive state funding like mosques, churches and synagogues of recognized religious minorities in the country. Some 80% to 90% of all cemevis in the country were built during the successive ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) governments since 2002.
The Alevi faith is defined as a combination of Shiite Islam, the Bektashi Sufi order and Anatolian folk culture, rather than a separate religion.