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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends 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.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid