Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The Turkish coffee is bitter | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The political model extolled by all those belonging to Islamist political currents in our region is the one that has been achieved by Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey. This model is the argument that is put forward whenever anybody questions Islamist political currents’ readiness to lead governments.

However, the political scene in Egypt, especially where the Muslim Brotherhood and its official political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party – not to mention the Salafist al-Nour party– are concerned, seems to be highly tumultuous. Their reckless performances, not to mention their “distance” from the sought-after Turkish political model, have been cited as the cause of this chaos, and this is because what the Islamist political parties in Egypt are advocating ultimately has nothing to do with the Turkish model.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a man who is implementing democracy to its fullest extent, without enforcing any control, transgression or elimination of others. Despite his Islamist doctrine, Erdogan does not deprive other sects and denominations from their equal right to practice full citizenship without question or decrement. They are not judged by double standards. Moreover, there is true economic freedom which allows progress and development for all sectors. Over and above, there is respect for freedom of speech, freedom of expression and media freedoms. Thanks to this healthy political climate, we have not seen extremist figures in Turkey try to assassinate a Nobel Laureate, for example, as happened in Egypt with the attempted assassination of Naguib Mahfouz.

Turkey is a civil state that is ruled by an Islamist-flavoured party, which also enjoys a parliamentary majority. However the Turkish state and government respect the rights of the Turkish people; they respect [diplomatic] agreements and the rights of others. This is a state of law; it is the criteria and rule, it is the means through which noble goals are achieved. This is something that the Islamist movement ruling Tunisia understands, whilst the Islamist movements in Syria who are seeking power also eventually understood this. However their counterpart movements in Egypt – as well as other countries – have failed to fully appreciate this.

The Erdogan model should be taken as it is, because Erdogan himself is the product of the political atmosphere in Turkey, and it was this same atmosphere that allowed for the formation of political parties, as well as the freedom to stand for elections and participate in politics, so long as people’s rights are not infringed upon or violated. More than this, and I am certain this next statement will provoke the Armenians in particular, but it is the truth: there is more tolerance and coexistence today in Turkey than there is in Armenia itself. People there live in their shells, isolated from the outside world, no matter how much they try to coexist with others. Indeed, the Armenians today even refuse to marry outside of their Church.

We may be glad of the Islamist parties desire to imitate the Turkish mode, but they must take this model in its entirety. Turkish civilization possessed a degree of tolerance which allowed Mimar Sinan, the Christian Armenian architect, to become the most famous builder of Istanbul mosques. This same tolerance allowed Turkey’s Muslim clerics to become a marja [Islamic reference] for tolerance and coexistence, away from hard-line attitudes and extremist behaviour. Again, this tolerance enabled Turkish culture to be a point of intersection for all world civilizations in a unique manner without elimination or offense.

Some Islamist movements were shocked today after it became clear that they are unable to adopt the Turkish political model in full, and so they have become a deformed and underdeveloped creature, and this represents the core of the problem they are facing today for when the Turkish model could not be completed, it turned bitter.