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.