The Çankaya Cem House Founding Association is facing a closure trial because they did not withdraw articles from their statutes that recognized Cem houses as places of worship. Cem houses are Alevi houses of assemblage. The first hearing is held today (10 February) before the Ankara 16th Civil Court of First Instance.
Fevzi Gümüş, President of the Pir Sultan Abdal Culture Association, and lawyer Ali Yıldırım, Head of the Alevi Research Centre, made a joint statement to support the Çankaya Cem House Founding Association. They declared, "The Alevi expect as much respect for their beliefs as they demonstrate for other beliefs. This is the most natural thing!"
From Department of Religious Affairs via the ministry to court
The dispute as subject of the legal proceedings was initiated by a writ (no. 1773) sent by the Department of Religious Affairs to the Ministry of the Interior on 17 December 2004. It conveyed the opinion that "Shiism as a sub-interpretation of Islam will not have separate places of worship apart from the 'mosques and prayer rooms' used as common places of worship. For the aforementioned reasons, it was not possible to evaluate Cem houses and similar places as places of worship".
The Directorate of the Associations Office within the Ministry of the Interior replied to the Ankara Governorship on 30 March 2005 (writ no. 1277). The Çankaya Cem Houses Founding Association was requested to remove the articles that recognized cem houses as places of worship from their statutes.
The Ankara Governorship forwarded the ministry's evaluation to the foundation three times and demanded to withdraw the related articles 2 and 4 from the statutes.
The association rejected the request and answered to the governorship that "Cem houses were accepted as places of worship in the common opinion of the Alevi community. The provisions in the statutes are not going to be changed". Thereupon, the issue was taken to court.
The Governorship applied to the Ankara Public Chief Prosecution for the closure of the Çankaya Cem House Founding Association. (EÖ/VK)
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