The Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which concludes August 18, can be a time of heightened friction in Istanbul, when the beliefs of the pious clash with the lifestyle preferences of secular-minded Turks. This year, Ramadan has been marked by a secularist outcry over recent efforts to restrict the consumption of alcohol.
Tension erupted over a two-day international rock concert at Istanbul Bilgi University in mid-July that kicked off just before Ramadan began. Just half an hour before the concert an alcohol ban was enforced by University authorities under pressure from the Islamist-rooted ruling AK Party. Ironically the "One Love" concert was sponsored by the country's largest beer producer, but the thousands of parched rockers had to make do with lemonade and water instead.
The decision provoked an uproar. "This is not a battle about alcohol, but about freedom" wrote a leading columnist, Hasan Cemal, in the Milliyet newspaper on July 17. A nationwide debate ensued during the weeks of Ramadan over the direction of the country, and, in particular, its largest city, Istanbul.
To read the full story
Dorian Jones is a freelance reporter based in Istanbul.