Turkey First– Religious Center For All Faiths!

An old man’s wish to build a mosque that would be open to any branch of the Muslim religion, even Alevis who are hated by most Muslims, has escalated into a major project which eventually will include religious facilities for those of all faiths. Ihsan Dogramaci, 93, a prominent Turkish businessman, who is founder of Turkey’s first private university, wanted to build a mosque and then decided the complex should include a synagogue for Jews and a church for Christians. He intended to carry out the wishes of his father who wanted a mosque that was open to both Alevis and Sunnis, but he went further than his father’s dream and decided to include a synagogue and a chapel. “All of them can pray at the same place,” he told the Turkish Daily News.

Before this interfaith edifice can become a reality, the Directorate of Religious Affairs must give its consent to this unusual center of religion. Sunni tradition requires entrance to the mosque must have a separate path from any leading to the other religious facilities. However, a major difficulty stems from Alevi beliefs which differ from those of Sunnis and even prayer would be different. Many Muslims do not regard Alevis as being part of their religion and view them as separate from Muslim culture and beliefs.

On hsi r ecent visit to Iraq, Prime Minister Recep Erdogan made clear to Shiite leaders, “I am neither Shiite nor Sunni, I am a Muslim.” Hopefully, he can show the same tolerance toward those who are Alevi.