The Alevi organizations agreed on five demands in their Alevi Workshop held in June 2009. However, the decisions taken in the 7th Alevi Workshop carried out between 28-30 January were not considered with these demands.
The five requests agreed on by Alevi organizations in the first workshop were related to recognizing the legal status of Alevi "Cem" houses as places of worship, lifting compulsory religious education, refraining from politics of building mosques in Alevi villages, returning the Hacı Bektaş Dervish Lodge and other Alevi sites seized under the Dervish Lodges Law to their owners and turning the Madımak Hotel into a museum. However, the Alevi Workshop report submitted to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan contained different issues.
The proposals of the current report can be summarized as follows:
Definition of Alevism: The report first of all gives a definition of Alevism. Accordingly, "Alevism is a way of belief and conduct created around the Hak-Muhammed-Ali concept under the caption of Islam".
Compulsory religious education: The report mentions in-depth discussions about the lifting of compulsory lessons on Religious Culture and Ethics. Yet, instead of the previously made request to lift religious education, the report comes to the conclusion that "the curriculum should be prepared in one main language and in accordance with all sections of society in a perspective that respects all parties".
Madımak Hotel: 37 Alevi intellectuals and activists died when the Madımak Hotel in Sivas (central Anatolia) was set on fire in 1993. Alevi associations had previously repeatedly requested to turn the hotel into a museum, whereas the new report suggests tearing the museum down and create a park instead because of "possible danger" emanating from a museum.
Ministry of Religious Affairs: The report does not consider the closure of the Ministry of Religious Affairs as a rational solution. As an alternative it proposes the inclusion of all interpretations of Islam to meet the need of a more civil structure.
Religious tax: According to the report, the introduction of religious tax would enhance peace between different kinds of beliefs and religious organizations once it has been clarified how to apply such a tax system. (Prof. Hatemi remarked that Alevi and other non-Muslim communities did not approve of financing religion from general tax sources.)
Education within senior dervish services: The status of senior dervishes should be reviewed under the aspect of city life and "Alevism in cities". Education should be provided within senior dervish services.
Cem houses: The report accepts cause for concern that recognizing the status of cem houses as places of worship "might initiate separation within Islam". However, it suggests tapping the full legal potential for the recognition of cem houses as places of worship.
Common historical awareness of Alevi and Sunni: The report proposes to establish a large-scale research centre aimed at collecting and protecting Alevi information and complete works of Alevism. It furthermore emphasizes the need for studies regarding the Alevi-Sunni common awareness of history. (ÇT/VK)
* As reported by Radikal newspaper, the following people attended the meeting:
Zafer Üskül, Arif Sağ, Oral Çalışlar, World Islam Family of the Prophet Muhammet Foundation member Fermani Altun, Head of Supreme Council of Religious Affairs Hamza Aktan, AKP MP İbrahim Yiğit, Cem Foundation President Prof. Dr. İzzettin Doğan, Ali Bulaç, former MPs, Ali Rıza Gülçiçek, Ethem Cankurtaran, Süleyman Bayraktar, prime ministry advisor İbrahim Kalın, Prof. Dr. Ahmet Yaşar Ocak, Ali Yaman, Fuad Bozkurt, Hüseyin Hatemi, Head of Pir Sultan 2 July Association Murtaza Demir, Head of Karacaahmet Sultan Association Muharrem Ercan, Senior Dervish Kurtcebe Noyan, Head of Alevi Foundations Confederation Doğan Bermek, Head of Alevi Associations Confederation Metin Tarhan, Secretary-General of Abant Platform Salih Yaylacı, member of Supreme Council of Religious Affairs İlyas Üzüm, former Head of Religious Affairs Tayyar Altıkulaç. Ethem Cankurtaran, Mehmet Moğultay and Seyfi Oktay attended the first day of the workshop.
Absent were Head of Hacıbektaş Dervish Lodge Veliyettin Ulusoy, Head of Alevi-Bektaşi Confederation Ali Balkız, Head of Hacı Bektaşi Veli Anadolu Cultural Foundation Ercan Geçmez and Su TV General Broadcasting Director Yalçın Özdemir.
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