Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The Brotherhood’s love for Erdogan | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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No sooner had the young members of the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo finished cheering for the new Muslim “leader” Recep Tayyip Erdogan than the joy of the Brotherhood elders and patriarchs was extinguished. This time, the new Ottoman sultan had entered Cairo in a Western suit and not in the sultan’s jubbah and turban. He came to give lectures in the public squares of Cairo, and not to besiege its walls and fight the last Mamluk Sultan (Tuman Bay II), who was defeated and hung up at the city gate (Bab Zeweila) by Ottoman Sultan Selim I.

The Brotherhood youth had invoked the memory of history, and portrayed Erdogan as a Muslim Caliph mounted upon his horse, commanding Muslim armies all across the world, razing fortresses and castles, and of course building his towering palaces on the banks of the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles.

Yet Erdogan’s surprize, of which there are many, is that he struck a nerve amidst the current Egyptian controversy, and stormed in like a tank encroaching upon all the taboos of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. We are all aware of the on-going heated debate surrounding the nature of the Egyptian state, whether it should take on a civil or religious framework, and the meaning of democracy as perceived by the Muslim Brotherhood alongside fellow Islamist and conservative groups, as opposed to the concept of democracy advocated by supporters of the civil state during this critical transitional period in Egypt.

After soaking up the cheers of the Brotherhood youth and the Tahrir Square revolutionaries, Erdogan went on to say that Egyptians should not fear secularism, because it does not predispose hostility towards religion. He further maintained that Turkey was a secular state and because of this it has been able to achieve the success for which it is now being credited.

Picture this: a moment of utter silence where the cheers died down and eyes were wide open, only to be broken by a well-known, “moderate” Brotherhood voice, namely Essam el-Eryan, who said: “We thank Erdogan and love Turkey, but he should not interfere in Egypt’s affairs. Secularism is not a solution for us. Turkey is free to adopt its own choice. The power of the Islamic civilization lies in its diversity”…among other loaded phrases.

Besides’ Erodgan’s fondness for attention, regardless of the truth behind what he is doing and its effect on his relations with Israel, and apart from what is substantive and what is superficial with regards to Turkish – Israeli relations, the fact remains that it is both necessary and compelling to interpret the phenomenon of the Erodgan “fad”.

For me, the strangest aspect of the Erodgan phenomenon, which started before the so-called Arab Spring, is the admiration held by some politicized radicals in Saudi Arabia for the Turkish Prime Minister. Unbelievably, Erdogan is admired by this sector even though according to their rigid standards he would be regarded as an “apostate” for ruling by a secular constitution, for defending secularism in Cairo, for establishing military, security, commercial and political relations with Israel, for being an active member of the “crusader” NATO alliance, and for permitting all manner of sins in his country under codified laws.

It is hard to believe that a preacher in Saudi Arabia can attack those who disagree with him on minor issues such as women driving or the right to sell women’s clothes, and accuse them of being “Westernized” or secular, or even in collaboration with Western powers, whilst singing the praises of the new leader, or Muslim caliph, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Have we lost all contact with rationalism and logic? Do we say what we don’t believe, and believe what we don’t say? Do we do what we don’t say and don’t believe? In any case, welcome to the club of popularization Mr. Erdogan.