News / Europe

Ramadan Leads to Demonstrations in Turkey

Anti-government protesters eat as they break their fast on the first day of the holy month of Ramadan at Taksim Square in Istanbul, Turkey, July 9, 2013.
Anti-government protesters eat as they break their fast on the first day of the holy month of Ramadan at Taksim Square in Istanbul, Turkey, July 9, 2013.
Dorian Jones
Ramadan observances in Turkey are quickly becoming a catalyst for anti-government protests.  Large public Iftar dinners that take place at the end of daily fasting, and are designed to protest the government, are being organized by self-described "Anti-Capitalist Muslims". 

The Islamic fasting month of Ramadan has seen anti-government protesters adopt a new strategy - gathering on the city’s main shopping street for Iftar, the meal that breaks the day of fasting.

Just a few-hundred meters from the site of weeks of  anti-government unrest at Gezi Park, demonstrators sitting on newspapers shared food as riot police backed by armored cars looked on.

One protestor, who did not want to be identified, believed the dinners send a powerful message. 

"People have something to say and people have problems with the government, this pressure of the government is not something acceptable.  And having the Iftar together, from all kinds of people, from different levels of society, different thoughts, different feelings is the best way to impress themselves against this pressure of the government," he said. 

The protest dinners are organized by a group calling itself "Anti-Capitalist Muslims."  Group leader Ihsan Eliacik accused the ruling Islamist AK Party of trying to divide Turks. 

He said charges by the prime minister that anti-government protests were against religion were false, and "we are the ones defending religion."  He said "the only division in Turkey is between those who seek and receive benefits from those in power and those who do not."

The Anti-Capitalist Muslims are protesting what they say is the ruling AK Party's party’s increasingly ostentatious behavior and the enrichment of its members.  It has protested at Iftar dinners held at luxury hotels that it says are attended by government supporters and ministers.

The author of the book “Islam Without Extremes”, Mustafa Akyol, said the group was an alternative to the ruling Islamists and the opposition secularists.  

"Maybe a bit like the liberation theology in Latin America, in the way they understand religion.  So they are not a big group, their supporters are small, and I do not expect them to be turning into a larger political reality.  But they are adding color to the discussion and I am glad they are out there, showing that there are not just two monolithic camps, but there is more diversity actually in society," said Akyol.

According to the government's statistics the divide between rich and poor has grown significantly, despite record economic growth during its decade long rule.

Political scientist Yuksel Taskin of Istanbul’s Marmara University said the Anti-Capitalist Muslim message of combining religion and social justice could find fertile ground in Turkey.

"They strongly challenge the AK Party's direct claim that they represent Islam," said Taskin. "They have a potential among youth.  Certain marginal ideas can find some room in universities and gradually they may actually pass to other sections of society.  This is generally what happens in Turkey.  Our economy has grown four times, but ordinary shopkeepers and workers they are aware they are not benefiting from this.  This increases the attractiveness of social Islam.  Because people are quite religious in Turkey, so they like when religion and social concerns comes together."

With the Turkish economy showing signs of slowing, and unemployment edging higher, along with continuing anti-government protests, observers warn the message of the Anti-Capitalist Muslims could become more than just an irritant to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, when he faces national elections next year.

You May Like

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More