Nikolaos Stelya / DUVAR
The Greek government has granted legal status to a cemevi – house of worship for Alevis – in the Evros border region, approving its use as a place where religious and social activities can take place.
The move came after Greek Deputy Minister of Education and Religious Affairs Angelos Syrigos on April 10 visited a cemevi located in the village of Megalo Dereio in Evros.
Following this visit, Syrigos announced that his ministry approved the cemevi to function as a house of worship.
Before this move, various Greek media had claimed that Turkey was conducting a “Sunni propaganda” in the western Thrace region.
Alevis have several dervish lodges in Greece, especially on Rhodes Island. In the city of Komotini, authorities recently launched the restoration of a dervish lodge.
Alevis make up an estimated 15-25 percent of Turkey’s population, the second main religious group after Sunni Islam. Despite the fundamental differences in religious practices between the two groups, the Turkish government to-date refuses to acknowledge Alevi cemevi as the legitimate place of worship and to grant cemevis the same financial support as mosques. Instead, Turkey claims that cemevi is a cultural entity.