When I came out of the post office, I saw a woman standing in a corner, hiding herself a bit. I looked again, and saw she was eating some kind of muesli bar. I guess she didn’t want anybody to see she was eating during Ramadan. She was wearing a headscarf. Maybe she was trying to fast but just couldn’t do it this year, or maybe she had a reason for not joining in (being sick or pregnant for example), but didn’t want to be seen eating by people who are fasting. Anyhow, it surprised me, because I feel in this country everybody is respected for the choices he or she makes during Ramadan. If you don’t fast, you can eat and drink on the street and nobody will criticise you for it. If you do want to fast, that’s of course respected too.
A funny example is a good friend of my loved one. The friend lives in Bursa, a city close to Istanbul, he came over and the guys went out last night. Usually they drink beer, but the friend considers himself a Muslim and he follows Ramadan. So he had cola and tea, my partner poked fun at him and ordered beers for himself. And late at night, the friend needed his sahur (pre-dawn breakfast), so together they went to McDonalds (french fries and hamburger for sahur, right) and my loved one waited patiently till his friend finished his breakfast. Good story, I have to say. It shows how in Turkey in general nobody has to behave more or less devoutly than he or she is. There is always discussion in this country about ‘neighbourhood pressure’ that might push people to be either more or less Islamic, depending on the village or neighbourhood where they live, but somehow I don’t believe in it. People let eachother be who they are, and besides that, usually people stand strong enough in the choices they make.