Şerafettin Halis, Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) MP from the city of Tunceli in eastern Anatolia, submitted a proposal for recognizing Alevi 'cem' houses as places of worship in three laws regarding development and improvement. Cem houses are Alevi houses of assemblage.
Halis based his proposal on articles 10 and 24 of the constitution. Article 10 stipulates that "everybody is equal before the law regardless of religion, religious order and similar reasons for possible discrimination". Article 24 anticipates that "everyone owns freedom of conscience, religious belief and opinion".
Halis stated, "In terms of faith, the legal guarantee for cem houses as houses of worship will be one of the foundations of creating a democratic country side by side with rendering happiness for the Alevi". In his proposal Halis suggested to replace the expression "worship places" by "mosque, cem house, prayer room, church and synagogue" in the three referring laws.
The three laws Halis intends to amend are law no. 2981 concerning "Certain proceedings implemented to regulations regarding settlement development and shanty houses "; law no. 6785 on "amending an article of the settlement development law" and no. 3194 as the "settlement development law".
Proposal was not considered in 2008
A similar proposal made by crossbench MP Kamer Genç in 2008 was not considered by the parliament despite support of the Republican People's Party (CHP).
Genç had suggested to add "cem house" to the term "mosque" in the Village Law and to replace the expression "worship places" by "mosque, cem house, prayer rooms, church and synagogue" in the Settlement Development Law.
Village Law only considers "mosques"
In article 2 of the Village Law a village is defined as follows: "A village consists of common places such as a mosque, a school, grazing land and a coppice forest. The houses of the inhabitants stand close to each other or are scattered across the region. They are surrounded by vineyards, gardens and fields". The Village Law only mentions mosques and no other places of worship.
Development and Construction Law includes "places of worship"
Since an amendment made in 2003, the term "mosque " is eliminated from the Settlement Development Law and replaced by the expression of "places of worship".
Municipality Law restricts places of worship
In the Municipality Revenue Law places of worship are exempt of contributing to electricity and gas expenses, environmental cleaning tax and various other expenses.
However, the article concerned with electrics and gas only mentions "mosques, prayer rooms, churches and synagogues". (TK/VK)
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