Remembering Gezi during Ramadan: ‘Ground dining’ brings together anti-war activists

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Following the Gezi Park protests, thousands in Istanbul are attending so-called “ground dining” gatherings during the holy month of Ramadan, where people of differing views dine together sitting on the ground. 

Gezi protests took place in the spring of 2013 and started as a group protesting the goverment’s decision to cut down trees in the park to reconstruct the historic Taksim Military Barracks, which most people believed was to house yet another shopping mall in Istanbul.

The peaceful protests turned into nationwide demonstrations when the tents of the protesters were burned by government employees at 5:00am, mobilizing all kinds of people to join the protests that were critical of the ruling AKP’s policies.

Long-standing tradition

This year, following the third anniversary of the Gezi movement, “ground dining” returned with an anti-war message. People gathering together to eat their evening meal on the ground to break the daily Ramadan fast, known as iftar, is a long tradition in the Islamic world. This one was held in Istanbul’s Kadiköy district.

On Kadiköy’s busy Bahariye Street, the iftar meal was arranged on the sidewalks. The group of between 80-100 people brought food from home or from the grocery store, and together spread out newspapers on the ground.

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