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

    US Leaders Who Served in Vietnam War Look Back and Ahead

    In New York Times opinion piece, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Kerrey say as US strengthens relations with Vietnam, it is important to remember lessons learned from war

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

    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.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora