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The Turkish Experiment - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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I do not know if the Islamic world should rejoice or grieve following the victory of [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan and his party [Justice and Development Party – AKP] in recent Turkish elections.

The reality of the situation shows that the Turkish case is an absolute ‘exception’ because the general picture in the Islamic world is one of despotic tyrannies embroiled in corruption, ignorance and extremism.

Even parties and movements bearing Islamic slogans  in fact, those parties in particular are primarily political movements that have separative and extremist discourses that are far removed from the moderate and balanced rhetoric that characterizes Erdogan and the AKP’s discourse. As such, it is difficult to convince objective observers that all these groups adopt the same approach. There is a huge discrepancy between a party that unifies between the homeland and the religion on a moral basis, and another that spreads dissension, death and destruction.

This is why it is revolting to witness a significant number of tycoons and the advocates of extremism congratulating one another and spreading the news about the Turkish “victory” while attributing it to themselves. They are completely forgetful of the fact that they are actually against most of the ideas that the Turkish party proposes, in addition to the hundreds of fatwas [religious edicts] issued by the Turkish party on doctrinal matters  which they completely reject. Today, with full audacity they ride the wave to exploit the situation in the cheapest of ways.

Islamic movements and states must realize that what happened in Turkey has created a platform for measurement and a test for merit. The Islamic world will not be measured against a ceiling that stands lower than the Turkish level. Based on that, everything below that threshold is deemed aberrant and unacceptable.

The latest Turkish victory should be viewed in a through and different manner – instead of just rejoicing over what happened; it should develop to the stage of bearing responsibility for what is yet to come. Erdogan and his party have focused on sustainable development, the elimination of corruption, improving education and the investment climate, reinforcing better and more respectful relations with neighboring states, safeguarding the sovereignty of the land, protecting the rights of the citizens, the implementation of a fair system of justice and the development of services. It is a simple formula, but it is not applied in the manner that it should be, as it was endowed [to us] a Divine right.

A final challenge that confronts Erdogan and his party is related to the nomination of someone for the post of prime minister or president (pending what is agreed upon). It seems that the situation is looking favorable for Abdullah Gul who will be confronted by fierce competition from his opponents.

There is as a suggestion that I hope can be taken into consideration, which is the nomination of the great Turkish ‘knight’, [Ekmeleddin] Ihsanoglu, the current secretary-general of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). He represents a promising front for Muslims and he is worthy of being appointed to Turkey’s top authority, as it seems that the bureaucracy of this organization has left him extremely frustrated amidst the struggles and internal conflicts between Islamic states. Ihsanoglu would achieve far more for Turkey.

It remains that the Turkish ‘Experiment’ contains many wisdoms and lessons that should be taken seriously.

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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