May 06 2019

Police detain Turkish dissident Muslim activist at Istanbul iftar meal

Police in Istanbul broke up a free iftar meal organised by the dissident Anticapitalist Muslims on Monday evening, detaining the group’s founder, İhsan Eliaçık.

The Anticapitalist Muslims had organised an iftar meal for the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, offering food in Istiklal Avenue in central Istanbul.

Photographs of the police intervention show Eliaçık being dragged along the ground and other members of the group being detained by police officers.

İsmail Kılıçarslan, a columnist for the pro-government daily Yeni Şafak, condemned the police intervention in a tweet. "Breaking one's fast on the street is a right that does not require (government) permission", he said. "I protest the police for their action."

Eliaçık’s group, which opposes many policies of the Islamist-rooted ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), played a prominent role in anti-government protests in 2013.

The dissident theologian has been hit faced legal trouble since then, and was sentenced to six years in prison last year for “making terrorist propaganda”, referring to a speech he gave in the mainly Kurdish southeastern city of Diyarbakır. Eliaçık has appealed against the decision.