Turkey's Alevis to open 'cemevi' via associations

Supreme court ruling says courts cannot decide on what constitutes a place of worship.

Turkey's Alevis to open 'cemevi' via associations

World Bulletin/News Desk

The Turkish Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that Alevis can found associations to open or build their houses of worship, known as cemevi.

But the court also ruled that the judiciary does not have the right to say what is, or is not, a house of worship.

The defendant in the case was Cankaya Cemevi Building Association. The charter of the organization stated that its aim was to open cemevis as places of worship. 

The authorities tried to close down the organization, arguing that cemevis are not counted as places of worship in Diyanet's definitions. Diyanet is Turkey's department of religious affairs. 

A local court in Ankara had ruled after a government department applied for the closure of the organization. The court said the association could not be closed as it was not violating any law.

The public prosecutor appealed to the Supreme Court of Appeals of Turkey, called Yartigay for short, and won.

But the Alevi group appealed again to the General Assembly of the Supreme Court -- the highest body and the highest chamber. That body decided Wednesday that Alevis could establish associations with the aim of building and opening cemevis. The assembly also said judicial authorities could not define a place of worship.

The ruling came a day after the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Turkey had discriminated against the Alevi community's houses of worship.

Turkish authorities have said the country is already working to eliminate discrimination against Alevi community.

"It will not affect our efforts," Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Tuesday in response to the European court's decision. "We will proceed on our way."

Last month, the premier also announced that his government would make a series of moves to atone for previous discrimination by the state against the Alevi minority.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 03 Aralık 2014, 18:06