Erdoğan says state body to be established to address Alevis’ concerns

Turkish President Erdoğan has said that the government will establish an institutional body under the Culture and Tourism Ministry to address the concerns of Alevis. However, Erdoğan refrained from making any comments with regards to Alevis’ demand that the government recognize cemevis as official places of worship.

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said that the Presidency of Culture and Cemevi (“Cemevi Başkanlığı”) will be founded under the Culture and Tourism Ministry.

“Within the framework of works run under the coordination of our Culture and Interior Ministries, 1,585 cemevis have been visited and each addresse has been listened to. Instructions have been given (by the government to solve) the problems with regards to buildings, renovations, and heating. Detailed works have been conducted for more deep-rooted solutions,” Erdoğan said on Oct. 7 during a visit to Şahkulu Sultan Cemevi in Istanbul.

“I would like to share the good news of these today. We are establishing an institutional body that will follow up on all of the issues of the places in the eye of the state. Within the body of our Culture and Tourism Ministry, Alevi Bektashi Culture and Cemevi President will run the management of all cemevis. All of the works will be run under this institutional body, under public security support and supervision.”

In November 2021, ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) officials had told Reuters that the government might recognize cemevis as official places of worship. However, no statement came from Erdoğan with regards to this issue.

Following several attacks on Alevi buildings, Erdoğan in August attended a fast-breaking dinner at an Ankara cemevi. Afterwards, several Alevi organizations criticized Erdoğan’s visit, finding it “insincere” and “ill-intentioned.” They pointed out that Erdoğan refrained from making any statements after his visit and said that the president's refusal to publicly address attacks targeting the Alevi community is “an indicator of his prejudice.”

According to Alevi Bektashi Federation, there are approximately 20 million Alevis in Turkey and 1 million in Europe in total. There are approximately 4,800 cemevis, Alevi houses of worship, in Turkey.