In the meeting that is organized for equal citizenship and against discrimination on Sunday, the Alevite organizations demanded abolishment of the Department of Religious Affairs, removal of the mandatory religious courses from the curriculum of the primary education, legal status for the Alevite places of worship and an end to the building of mosques in Alevite villages.
Assoc. Prof. Elçin Macar says that the existence of the Director of Religious Affairs is against secularism.
Macar evaluated the demands for bianet:
Department of Religious Affairs: “The existence of such an institution is against the principle of equality. The state should not regulate the religious affairs. Since the number of the beliefs the citizens may have is theoretically infinite, it will violate the principle of equality when it tries to regulate them. But according to the 89th article of the law about the political parties, the political parties cannot demand the abolishment of the Director of Religious Affairs.”
“The secular state cannot provide religious service, it should stay at equal distance to all the beliefs, but the Department of Religious Affairs is providing religious service designed in accordance with the “Sunni Hanefi” creed.”
“Similarly, it is also against secularism, when one gives place to the Alevite belief in the Department of Religious Affairs.”
“Secular state cannot test the beliefs of the children”
Mandatory religion course: “They came up with this course after the September 12 Coup. Minister of Education says they have already renewed the old curriculum and there is no problem. The fact that the non-muslims do not have to take this class shows that it is only designed for the muslims. This course is not about the religious cultures; it is not a history class. It is a place where they teach the Sunni Hanefi interpretation of Islam."
“I do not think that a course titled ‘History and Cultures of Religions’ cannot be taught in a manner not in contradiction with secularism and at equal distance to all the beliefs. The children are being tested for their beliefs in a system described as secularist.”
The status of the Alevite houses of worship: “This is a matter that concerns Islam. The state does not see the Alevite Cem Houses equal to the mosques. The problem is this: Why does the state decide what place can become a place of worship? If those people want to worship there, it is their decision.”
“If the state is providing mosques with free electricity and water, then the same should be done for all the beliefs.”
“The secular state cannot build a place of worship”
State’s building of mosques: “This one is especially the policy of the September 12 Coup. It is likely that this policy was based on the opinion that the Alevites were leftists, they were communists. They think that they might change them if they can teach them the real Islam. This shows that the “Turkish” identity is not seen enough, they also want to reinforce it with the Turk-Muslim-Sunni-Hanefi factors.”
“State’s building of mosques is also against the principle of equality. Is the state going to build a church or a Buddhist temple? In this case, if a single person comes up and asks for a place of worship built for his/her particular belief, then the state has to provide this person with this service. The secular state cannot give this kind of service, it should be indifferent to religions.” (TK/TB)
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