Ramadan is politics

With Ramadan about to start, I was talking with a Turkish friend about whether or not to eat in public during Ramadan. I have mixed feelings. On one hand, I want to show respect to people who fast, on the other hand, I don’t fast so why should I not eat something when I’m on the street and hungry?

My friend was very clear in his opinion. He would not hesitate to eat something in public during the up-coming fasting month. Turkey is a secular state, he argued, and a democracy. There is no law against eating on the street during Ramadan, there is no law that says you have to fast during Ramadan, so he is free to eat when and where he wants. And if people who do fast have a problem with it, well, so be it. He doesn’t want to be intimidated by that, and, more importantly, he says he is defending the secular state by eating on the street during Ramadan.

I can see his point, but it’s also weird to make eating a simple simit in the street into a political statement. Maybe I will sometimes eat in public too in the month to come. It will be because I’m hungry. And if by doing that I support the secular state, well, so be it.

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  1. […] A headmaster who decides that the teachers’ canteen will not serve food during Ramadan. Children who don’t fast during Ramadan being bullied at school by children who do. Official functions where no drinks are served. During Ramadan Turkey becomes visibly more religious. Especially when things like this happen in schools, government or municipality buildings or other state or state-related institutions, it causes heated discussions in which secularists point out that these things show that Turkey is gradually becoming a religious state. People’s perspective on Ramadan changes because of these discussions. For many people it is still a traditional and religious month that they look forward to, but for others Ramadan is turning into a political issue. Some people even decide not to fast because they feel that if they do, they will be seen to support the Islamization of society. They don’t want to be part of the group that reflects the growing influence of religion in Turkish life.Ramadan is politics (1): http://www.journalistinturkey.com/blogs/ramadan-is-politics_12/  […]

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