Hundreds gather for iftar dinner on main Istanbul street
ISTANBUL – Doğan News AgencyHundreds of people held an outdoor iftar dinner, “Yeryüzü İftarı,” for a third time on Istanbul’s İstiklal Avenue on June 18, for the first day of Ramadan. Iftar is a kind of religious supper eaten after fasting each day during Ramadan, the Islamic holy month.
The crowd started preparing for the dinner 45 minutes before the iftar, which starts at sunset. People dined on the ground, on paper spread all across İstiklal Avenue between Tünel Square and Galatasaray Square, both well-known spots in Istanbul’s Beyoğlu district.
The group sat down around the paper “dining tables,” placing their food and drink on the paper tables to share with one another. The dinner also caught passersby and tourists’ attention as they walked on Istiklal Avenue.
İhsan Eliaçık, a theologian and author, said Yeryüzü İftarı had already been something cohesive since 2011 “but now it is publicized.”
“People gather on their own. They call us here and we come. We will participate if other calls are made from different parts of Istanbul. This will last until the end of Ramadan,” he said.
Istiklal’s Yeryüzü İftarı was first held when police tension was on the rise, with repeated crackdowns on demonstrators attending the Gezi Park protests in June 2013.
The Gezi Park demonstrations, which started out late May 2013 as a small protest by environmental activists, quickly evolved into nationwide protests following police violence, with millions taking to the streets to protest the unjust policies of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government.