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YUSUF KANLI > The last iftar…

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Can a non-Muslim, for example a person subscribing to Catholicism, host an iftar, a fast-breaking dinner? Sure he can, after all, because of protocol obligations, many non-Muslims have been showing up every year at the iftar political shows of Turkey’s absolute chief executive.

Thus, though being a diabetic I do not fast, I did not hesitate a moment in accepting an invitation from a Levantine friend, a Catholic, for the last fast-breaking dinner this Ramadan, the holy month during which Muslims don’t eat or drink anything, and stay away from sexual conduct – as well as refrain from cursing at each other or engaging in any sort of violence – from dawn to sunset. Structural details sometimes ought to be pushed aside, shouldn’t they?

It was a nice evening. Antalya is still not as conservative as the absolute chief executive and his Islamopolitical clan might wish to see. Some tables of guests sat with their eyes on the ticking clock and ears fixed to the nearby mosques’ loudspeakers, waiting for the fast-breaking time to come. At nearby tables seated people taking sips from their alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks expressed sympathy for those fasting as under the Mediterranean sun; it was no joke at all to abstain from food and drink up to 18 hours a day for 30 days.

I remembered a similar evening in Ankara last year. I and my wife were at one of Ankara’s oldest restaurants, a place proudly declaring that it had even hosted Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founding father of the modern (apparently no longer) secular Turkish republic, many times. That night as the non-fasting few present at the restaurant, we were pushed to a remote corner of the big garden, as if we were Jews in Hitler’s Germany.

The scream of a young boy, whose family was sitting at the adjacent table, brought me back to the real world. “Are we obliged to have dinner here tonight? I want to go home!” an 8-year-old or so old boy was screaming at his parents. “We’ll go home after dinner,” they explained to him; he did not like the explanation.

Apparently the restaurant, in a splendid park overlooking the beautiful Mediterranean was mostly off-limits to the Internet, and thus social media. The young boy was frustrated at being cut off from his “virtual community” and was protesting that. “Young man,” his mom said, “I am afraid you have to learn that people communicate in ways other than f..time or tw..r!”

“How were you living before f..time or tw..r? What kind o a life was that? How could a restaurant as expensive as this not have Internet access?” the frustrated young boy exploded.

Indeed, at a five-star “all inclusive” hotel where a fortune is paid for every day spent there, it was odd to see people flocking to the lobby or the designated “Internet available” sections, working around the clock to remain in touch with their “virtual communities.”

Were they bothered by the hundreds of people, including eight deputies, many professors and over 100 journalists behind bars in this country because they objected the leadership style or policies of the absolute chief executive? Were they bothered at all that the interior minister of the country, being attacked by people in a southeastern city, tried to find refuge at a coffeehouse? Or, did they think for one second about the photographs depicting some pro-Kurdish deputies embracing with affection some separatist terrorists?

Anyhow today is holiday, enjoy it!

August/20/2012

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