Turkish police fired tear gas and plastic bullets at members of Furkan Foundation, a social-religious civic society group known for its critical stance against the government, while celebrating the Holy Birth of the Prophet Muhammad in Adana province.
A 95-second video footage, viewed hundreds of times on Twitter, shows the moment a group of 200 Furkan members were severely attacked by police and taken into custody during celebrations at Adana’s Atatürk Park on Saturday.
Islamic countries celebrate the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday according to the lunar calendar, which is 354 days long, meaning that dates move 11 days forward every year according to the Gregorian calendar.
In 1994, however, Turkey decided to fix the Prophet’s birthday celebrations to Gregorian calendar, resulting in two sets of birthday celebrations based on the two calendars.
The new Gregorian dates for the Holy Birth Week were first fixed between April 20 and 26 and then April 16-22, but those dates created more controversy with some saying Holy Birth Week overshadowed April 23, Turkey’s National Sovereignty and Children’s Day.
Following opposition, the Religious Affairs Directorate finally moved the week to April 14-20.