Aina.org: My personal experiences in Egypt — a country I have visited countless times over the past three decades and have strong feelings about, due to historic family connections — has shown me that common attitudes toward Turkey in this leading Arab country are often ambivalent, to say the least. I have found from my experiences in other Middle Eastern countries that the general Arab attitude toward Turkey is a strange brew of derision and admiration.
From the Islamic perspective, especially of those who are members or sympathizers of the Muslim Brotherhood, the most prevalent view is that Turkey lost its Islamic soul after late President Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s Westernizing reforms. A secular Turkey aiming to be a Western-style democracy — even though its population is predominantly Muslim, and devout at that — was widely considered the antithesis of all that the Brotherhood stands for.
This was also made highly apparent during the heyday of the Arab Spring, when the Brotherhood reacted angrily to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s September 2011 call for Egyptians to adopt a secular constitution, underscoring that secularism does not mean atheism and is a system of governance that stands equidistant to all faiths.
Erdogan’s exhortation, however, was generally welcomed by non-Brotherhood Egyptians with secular leanings, whether Muslim or Christian. Erdogan’s words were also welcomed in Europe and America, where the feeling at the time was that Turkey, as a predominantly Muslim country that nevertheless operates as a Western-style democracy, would also provide an important example for the countries of the Arab Spring.
Categories: Europe and Australia