Rumi Forum's blog on Hizmet, Fethullah Gulen, peacebuilding, education and interfaith efforts.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Cemevi project causes no concern of assimilation for Alevis or Sunnis

6 September 2013 /İLYAS KOÇ, ANKARA

Head of the Alevi CEM Foundation İzzettin Doğan said on Friday that the first joint mosque and cemevi (Alevi place of worship) project will not lead to any assimilation of Alevis or Sunnis. 

Organizing a press conference before the start of the construction of the project on Sunday in Ankara together with the head of the Hacı Bektaş Veli Culture, Education, Health and Research Foundation Kemal Kaya and the Alevi and Sunni businessmen who are sponsoring the project, Doğan called the project revolutionary.

According to Doğan, this project will set an example for other countries that suffer from sectarian divides in the region.  He argued that certain groups in the Middle East want an Alevi-Sunni divide to be imported to Turkey. “We aim to develop the consciousness that Alevis and Sunnis are the subjects of the same God,” Doğan further added.

Stating that they reached an agreement that it will be a good idea to build a mosque and a cemevi with Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, Doğan said that neither of them had a concern about the conversion of Alevis to Sunni Islam or the other way around. He added that they believe such a project will help eradicate prejudices among the two communities.

Stating that there are over 100,000 mosques in Turkey, Doğan said that he has been thinking that the function of the mosques should adapt to the conditions of a new era. For Doğan, the joint project which will also include a soup kitchen will help Alevis and Sunnis understand each other better.

The project will be financed by volunteer businessmen from both sides. Doğan believes that such joint financing will bring peace to the Turkish community and he has already experienced examples of this himself.

In response to the opposition of some Alevi organizations to the project, Doğan said that the aim of those associations is to oppose whatever the CEM Foundation says and keep the Alevi community fragmented.

“As a result of freedom of thought, they are free to oppose the project. We respect their thoughts, but we do not agree with them,” Doğan stated as he added that their opposition still begs a reasonable explanation.

Doğan also stated to reporters that a similar project will be realized in İstanbul and the land for the project has already been bought.

The complex will include a conference hall, a reading hall for children from disadvantaged families and lounges in addition to a soup kitchen. It will be located in the Tuzluçayır neighborhood of Mamak. The Mamak Municipality will also support the construction of the complex.

The construction of the project will start on Sept. 8 on a 12,000-square-meter area in Ankara which includes a 5,000-square-meter park.

Doğan said that they expect the attendance of senior members of the government at the groundbreaking ceremony on Sunday.