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The Valuable Turkish Lesson - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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There is a prevailing state of happiness amongst many of the political Islamist parties and movements in the Arab world as [the former] Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül managed to win the race for the Turkish presidency despite the vast reservations of secular and military leaders in the country towards him. These political Islamist and Arab political parties and movements consider Abdullah Gül, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and their party (the Justice and Development Party) one of them.

In reality, however, the Turkish Justice and Development Party and its leadership that enjoys an Islamic orientation is so far removed from the Islamist movements in the Arab world that it would be extremely unfair to place both parties in the same category. The Justice and Development Party had not assumed power by killing, bombing, and causing genocide and bloodshed. Also, it never advocated fatwas (religious rulings) created by ignorant individuals that denounce others as infidels and divide members of the same community into categories of atheists and infidels based on ignorant and erroneous judgments. This party had not reached power by isolating itself from the world and separating its people from their surroundings or misleading them to believe that they live alone on this planet.

The Development and Justice Party’s accession to power and to the highest authority in the Turkish Republic is a qualitative leap in the modern model of governance in the Islamic world. It’s governance is a rational and balanced one that is not strained or destructive as advocated by many political movements known for their Islamist orientations. With its spectacular successes on the economic level, the Turkish Justice and Development Party embarrasses the European Union for its consistent reservations towards accepting it as a full-fledged member of the European market. With its religious orientation, the party is similar to Christian Democratic parties in Germany and Scandinavian countries that were founded upon Protestantism yet managed to merge in the course of democratic mobility in a positive and constructive manner, dropping the religious cloak and adopting the form of a political party with religious roots. The successful and successive achievements of the Justice and Development Party along with its persistence towards protecting secularism, (that acts as the defense against sectarianism, division and ethnic conflicts and the differences that they produce that the Arab world is replete with), shows that what has been constantly promoted regarding the maintenance of religious governance is not a solution. The solution is the approach and method that have been adopted in Turkey, which came from a reference and methodology that has nothing to do with what others call for in Arab and Islamist movements.

We desperately hope that a country such as Pakistan would benefit from the valuable Turkish lesson before it drowns in the swamp of sectarianism and tribalism because the requirements for such a catastrophe are available. Of course, we can remind Iraq that it too should benefit from the same lesson.

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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