Date posted: September 2, 2013
İLYAS KOÇ, ANKARA
In an effort to strengthen the bonds between the Alevi and Sunni communities in Turkey, a mosque and a cemevi — an Alevi house of worship — will be built in the same complex in Ankara, the head of the Alevi CEM Foundation, Professor İzzettin Doğan, said on Saturday. The construction will start on Sept. 8.
Doğan said the idea for an area for joint worship came from Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who sent Doğan a message via a mutual friend. “‘Can’t we build mosques and cemevis in the same area from now on?’ he [Gülen] had asked,” said Doğan, adding that Alevis see no problem with such a proposal. “In our idea of Islam, what you call space is the heart of a person,” Doğan said. After stating that his response to Gülen’s suggestion was positive, Doğan said the state cannot hold the perception that there can be no other houses of worship other than mosques, a baseless view.
As the head of the CEM Foundation, Doğan accepted the suggestion but on one condition: “I told Gülen that we have no problem with the idea, but it was time to add a new function to mosques. Let’s build a soup kitchen between the mosque and the cemevi.”
According to Doğan, Gülen and his friends accepted the proposal of a soup kitchen the following day and assumed all the costs of the project in an effort to set an example for rapprochement between Alevis and Sunnis.
Gülen is a Turkish Islamic scholar well known for his teachings promoting mutual understanding and tolerance between cultures. He has pioneered educational activities in a number of countries, along with efforts to promote intercultural and interfaith activities around the world.
Doğan said 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.
Providing details about the project, Kemal Kaya, the head of the Hacı Bektaş Veli Culture, Education, Health and Research Foundation, said their aim is to prevent the spread of sectarian conflicts from the Middle East to Turkey. “Alevis and Sunnis will get to know each other better in this complex and overcome their prejudices,” Kaya stated, adding that a square or courtyard will be built in the complex for people to socialize.
Speaking at a meeting titled “Leaders of Faith” at the CEM Foundation headquarters, Doğan also said Turkey has two major problems: the Turkish-Kurdish and Alevi-Sunni divides.
“I was among the Wise People Commission comprising 63 members,” said Doğan, adding that during the group’s first meeting in Dolmabahçe Palace with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, he asked Erdoğan what is included in the settlement process. According to Doğan, after a short pause, Erdoğan said, “There is happiness, peace and prosperity in it.” Doğan went on to add that the commission members all had smiles on their faces.
The head of the Ankara branch of the CEM Foundation, Şahin Akıncı, also said that in the wake of the Gezi Park events, some ill-intentioned people had tried to ignite an Alevi-Sunni conflict. “This project will help to prevent such a possibility and will be its biggest contribution,” Akıncı pointed out. According to him, this project will be the first of its kind in the world.
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.
Source: Today's Zaman , September 01, 2013
Tags: Alevi issue | Dialogue | Peacebuilding | Turkey |