Fasting and feasting in the diverse city of Istanbul

Eating in public is banned in many countries during the Muslim month of fasting. But the people of Istanbul continue living as they desire, respectful of different practices.

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

An iftar or evening meal organised on June 16 by Pangalti Armenian High School in Istanbul.

In Turkey, with a predominantly-Muslim population, eating and drinking in public are not forbidden during the Islamic month of fasting, Ramadan.

Unlike some countries where this is a punishable offence or can trigger violence, Istanbul's restaurants and bars keep their doors open. People who do not fast do not generally feel the need to hide it in the city by the Bosphorus. 

The city's spirit of tolerance means Ramadan can be a festive affair for everyone.

Istanbul's various municipalities even host communal iftars or evening meals for people to come and break their fast, often free of charge. And these are open to the public at large.

"I came here last year at Ramadan. Four of us were fasting.The others were not fasting, but we were in harmony. They respect us," said Gulsen Abay, who was at one such communal iftar at Besiktas.

TRT World's Nicole Johnston reports from Istanbul.