Organized by the Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) İstanbul provincial branch, Sunday's iftar hosted some 10,000 people in front of the Çanakkale Martyrs' Memorial. In order to sympathize with thousands of Turkish soldiers who had to live under horrid conditions during the Battle of Gallipoli (Çanakkale in Turkish), fasters broke their fast with wheat soup, barley bread and water -- a typical daily menu for the soldiers who fought there.
The Battle of Gallipoli took place on the Gallipoli Peninsula from April 1915 to January 1916. Nearly 1 million soldiers fought in trench warfare at Gallipoli. Around 250,000 Turkish soldiers were killed in the fighting.
Among the attendees of the iftar were AK Party Deputy Chairman Abdülkadir Aksu, İstanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş, AK Party İstanbul provincial branch President Aziz Babuşçu, journalists Mustafa Karaalioğlu, Ali Akkuş and Nihal Bengisu Karaca, and deputies Burhan Kuzu and Mustafa Şentop.
The iftar program began with a simulation of the Çanakkale victory which enabled the Çanakkale visitors to experience the memories of the victory in a realistic environment.
“We came here to break our fast in this spiritual atmosphere. We, as a nation that has won numerous victories over the centuries, are here to remember our past,” Topbaş said in his address to thousands of people who gathered in front of the Çanakkale Martyrs' Memorial.
Babuşçu also made a speech during the event, emphasizing the country's need for fraternity and solidarity.
“Çanakkale is a melting pot where our martyrs of Turkish, Kurdish, Bosnian and Circassian origin fused into a unique body in defense of our country. Çanakkale is a reflection of the spirit of the brotherhood. Some groups aim to harm our national unity with terrorist attacks. However, we have to remain in unity and stand firm against all kinds of assaults,” Babuşçu stated.
“I thank God for being here today in this sacred place where our ancestors did not neglect their prayers even under difficult conditions,” Babuşçu further said.
Aksu also spoke during the night, saying that they remember with the highest respect and gratitude the soldiers who were killed in defense of the homeland.
“Our nation has always been an embracing one rather than being exclusionist. We live in mutual love, tolerance and fraternity,” Aksu went on to say.
The program continued with a recitation of the Quran. After the call to prayer for the sunset prayer was delivered, people broke their fast with what soldiers ate 97 years ago in the same province. Following the dinner the attendees performed the sunset prayer.
The AK Party İstanbul provincial branch provides food for iftar tables in other Thracian provinces as well, with trucks carrying food from İstanbul to the provinces. Throughout the holy month of Ramadan, “street iftars” will be held in 23 spots in the northwestern part of the country where shopkeepers will frequently be visited by party members as part of Ramadan activities.