“Sermayenin lüks otel iftarları: KAPİTALİZM
Egemenlerin iftar çadırları: SÖMÜRÜ
Halkın yeryüzü sofraları: ÖZGÜRLÜKTÜR”
“Iftar held in the luxury hotels of Capital: CAPITALISM
Iftar tents erected by the oppressors: EXPLOITATION
The earth tables of the People: FREEDOM.”
This appeal was published on the online several days ago by the groups the Anti-Capitalist Muslims (Antikapitalist Müsülmanlar) and the Revolutionary Muslims (Devrimci Müslümanlar), and was quickly shared on social media by numerous people who support theOccupy Gezi movement.
The date given for the first “People’s Iftar” or “Earth Table” of Ramadan 2013 in Turkey was Tuesday July 9 at 8:00 pm, in front of Galatasaray High School, in the middle of Istiklal Avenue. Any and all can come and share the meal – this is the founding principle of the “Earth Table”. These communal meals were introduced in 2011 by another organisation called Emek ve Adalet (Bread and Justice) in front of a luxury hotel, to protest a capitalist approach to Ramadan. Today it has evolved into a means for continuing the struggle against the government and a way to reclaim public space.
Throughout the evening, people continue to arrive. They spread out newspapers or, more rarely, a tablecloth on the cobblestones and then take a seat side-by-side on the ground. The table, which initially was a few dozen metres long, seems to grow exponentially. The goal is to reach Gezi Park, where the iftar organised by the local Beyoğlu governorship has been set up with pomp and ceremony. But at the end of the street, some 600 metres from the Galatasaray High School, the beautiful chain of people, plates and shared morsels of bread runs into an imposing security device. A big TOMA (an armoured police vehicle equipped with a water cannon) surrounded by police officers blocks access to Taksim Square. All night, the participants wonder whether it will attack them or not. Between bites, the slogans of the Gezi movement are repeated over and over: the classic Her Yer Taksim, Her Yer Direniş (“Taksim is everywhere, the resistance is everywhere”), the playful Sık bakalım (“Go ahead and teargas us”) directed at the police officers, and the untranslatable: Hüloooooğğğ.
At 8.47 pm, the meal begins. There are now several thousands seated on the ground: people who were there during the demonstrations and now have found themselves at this iftar. There are Muslims, Christians and non-believers; there are Turks, Kurds, Socialists, Kemalists and Liberals, young and old, all reflecting the diversity of the Gezi movement.