01 July 2009

Challenging assumptions - pork eating Turkish Muslims

Simon Reeve is one of the best travel docu-journalists around. In his new BBC series called Explore, in episode 'Istanbul and Anatolia', Adil Ray reported on the enigma of secular Turks who eat pork and drink beer.
You see, what I discovered in Turkey was probably the single most shocking piece of information regarding practising Muslims I have ever encountered.

No, not that the longer the beard the more religious you are, although some TV journalists would have us think so.

It's that in some parts of Turkey it is deemed perfectly acceptable for a Muslim to eat pork!

The guys I met take so much pleasure from it, in fact, that they actually go and hunt for it themselves - presumably to make sure it's real pork and not some kind of "tofu" variation supplied by the Islamic authorities.

I never thought I would see this day.

While a student, I was under the impression that even if a speck of my housemate's bacon fat was to get anywhere near my fish finger, I would be immediately struck down by lightning, but not before I had received 40 lashes in public from the local mullah and was disowned by the entire family.

Adil Ray joins a wild boar hunt in a Turkish forest

What struck me about the pork-eating and beer-drinking Turkish Muslims was how informed they were about their religion.

The people I spoke to had read the Koran and had made their choices.

This wasn't a case of someone feeling it had to be one choice or the other and that his or her life, beliefs and freedom were being compromised.

Until, that is, the authorities try to make it hard for them to hunt and sell pig meat or try to close down their local bars.
There are exceptions to every rule!

In any case, there was a time friends came over for breakfast and I had served bacon. The Jewish friend ate the bacon knowingly without any problem.

No comments: