Turkis Prime Minister Gul hosted a dinner for members of the Alevi community in his nation which was probably the first time a Turkish government official had taken such a step. The Alevi are considered a liberal denomination of the Muslim faith and are subject to extreme persecution and discrimination in other Muslim nations. Many Alevi boycotted the dinner because they doubted the sincerity of the prime minister. Erdogan told the audience of Alevis, “we all belong to this country, we are all brothers. We must know and understand one anotheer. We must not give in to those who would sow division.” However, even as he spoke, a Turkish court turned down a request by Alevis that their place of worship, a “cemevi” could be recognized as equivalent to a mosque.
The Alevis have long been fighting to attain equal rights in Muslim nations. The Turkish court decision is unfortunate because it fails to acknowledge the right of Muslims to have their own beliefs and accords to government the right to decide which is or is not an official house of worship. We applaud Prime Minister Erdogan for reaching out to those who are facing discrimination in his nation.