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Istanbul between the Sultanahmet Mosque and Hagia Sophia was hopping this evening. The streets were full of families walking, kids playing with glow sticks, food vendors of all kinds, and musicians. Last year I commented on my blog that Sukkot in Israel is like Christmas. I’ve never felt the joy of Ramadan (or Ramazan as they say in Turkish) before – it also feels like Christmas…only hot and at night.

Here a sign strung between two minarets of the Sultanahmet says “Welcome to the month of Ramadan!”

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On a free stage in the park whirling dervishes were dancing, and we heard the instrument that Rumi says sounds most like the human voice. Tonight I’ve been told that drummers will walk through the streets at 2:30am to wake everyone to prepare for the predawn meal. As far as I can tell not many people in this area of Istanbul will need to be awoken – I think they’ll still be up!

I should say that today in another area of Istanbul there was far less joy – the police again beat and tear-gassed protesters in Taksim Square. We are far away from that activity, both atmospherically and physically. Still, my thoughts are with the people who are trying to push for a more democratic Turkey.

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