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Why Turkey Has 'Anti-Capitalist Muslims'

İhsan Eliaçık, the group's leader, believes that the Islamic duty is not just caring for the poor, but overthrowing the capitalist “system” that he thinks makes them poor.
Anti-government protesters, who call themselves ''anti-capitalist Muslims'', shout slogans during a demonstration in Istanbul June 23, 2013. The European Union is on the verge of scrapping a new round of membership talks with Turkey, a move that would further undermine Ankara's already slim hopes of joining the bloc and damage its relations with Brussels. Germany, the EU's biggest economic power, is blocking efforts to revive Turkey's EU membership bid, partly because of its handling of anti-government prot

Among the various groups that joined the Gezi Park protests that shook Turkey in June, probably none was as unconventional as “Anti-Capitalist Muslims.” In the midst of avowedly secular Turks — ranging from liberals to communists, Kemalists to gay activists — they raised an “Islamic” voice against a government that is often perceived to be too Islamic. More recently, they even organized a mass iftar (fast-breaking dinner) which blurred all the classical Turkish distinctions between the religious and the secular, as described nicely in Fehim Taştekin’s Al-Monitor piece, “Turkey’s Gezi Park Protesters  Regroup for Ramadan.” Hence they deserve a closer look.

The Anti-Capitalist Muslims are actually a very small group, whose frequenters are probably not more than a couple of hundred. As explained in their website, they see capitalism as “the enemy of God, the enemy of humanity, nature, the poor, the starving and the needy.” They had made their first public appearance in the May Day celebrations in Istanbul in 2011, by joining a large left-wing, mostly Marxist crowd with Quranic verses in hand. Since then, they have attracted the attention of the media with demonstrations and TV appearances.

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