Skip to main content

Ramadan no longer a month of peace, serenity in Turkey

Hate speech and aggression against those who do not observe the fast during Ramadan in Turkey spike as the government and state authorities look the other way.
A vendor, selling corn, waits for customers after iftar, or the breaking of the fast meal in Beylikduzu, a district of Istanbul August 1, 2011. Muslims around the world abstain from eating, drinking and conducting sexual relations from sunrise to sunset during Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar. REUTERS/Osman Orsal (TURKEY - Tags: RELIGION SOCIETY FOOD) - RTR2PJ7R

On June 17, about 20 men stormed the Velvet Indieground record store in Istanbul's hip Cihangir district with sticks and makeshift weapons. The people in the store were celebrating the release of British rock band Radiohead's new album. One of those attacked told Reuters the angry mob beat victims over the head with bottles. The mob left yelling things like "This is Turkey, you cannot drink [alcohol] during Ramadan" and "Let's see if you dare to drink alcohol again, we will set you on fire."

The incident was captured and aired live on Periscope. For the next 24 hours, no one was taken into custody, even though the identities of the attackers and the threats they made were clear with video, voice recordings and eyewitness accounts. After the attack, Radiohead issued a statement to international news outlets. Residents of Istanbul — as well as others — organized a physical protest by using the social media hashtag #Cumartesi21decihangirdeyiz ("On Saturday [June 18] at 9 p.m. we are at Cihangir"). During that event, police attacked the peaceful protesters with tear gas, water cannons and batons.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 for annual access.