Monday, 8 July 2013

On the Eve of Ramazan

Tonight the metro unceremoniously dumped all its passengers at Osmanbey ( which is the stop before Taksim Square.) I meekly got out and began the dark, potholed walk towards home along side streets and back streets. The closer I got the more police I saw with their shields and their guns and their canisters of gas. And I thought to myself " Ah the spirit of Ramazan Eve." 
When I got to Taksim Square I was ushered into a bar after being told it was dangerous. Too dangerous to go home. Apparently Gezi Park had been re-opened to the public today only to be swiftly closed when it appeared that there might be a chance that a few people may come and assert their right to peaceful protest as guaranteed under Article 34 of Turkish Constitution which reads, “Everyone has the right to hold unarmed and peaceful meetings and demonstration marches without prior permission.”
I didn't want to stop at the bar.  I just wanted to go home, see Three-Paw and drink wine.  But I agreed to sit inside and wait for a few minutes. And in those moments that I sat down, the bar-owner started stroking my hair and saying I looked tired. "Belki a massage would help." And I thought Ah the spirit of Ramazan Eve
Needless to say, I got up and decided to continue my long march past the police with their shields and their guns. 
Do I sound disappointed?
Maybe a little. 
I suppose I should feel sorry for the young police boys ( some of them are still trying to grow hairs on their chin) as well as those who oppose them. I am sure these boys would much rather be at home ( growing that one hair), spending Ramazan Eve with their family and friends. Not holding shields and gas canisters and great hulking guns. 


For the past week I have listened to many of my students tell me, with a glisten in their eyes, about the beauty of Ramazan. And while I have my quiet doubts about letting my driver navigate bullish Istanbul traffic after ten hours without food or water, I have no doubts as to their passion. "Teacher, it is such a wonderful thing. To break fast with family. To see the tents set up in parks in gardens. Feeding the poor, bringing people together."

But gas, guns and shields on Ramazan Eve, it just makes me sad. 
In Istanbul, 
In Egypt, 
In poor lost Syria. 

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