By Geoffrey Cook, MMNS
Washington DC–Ankaraâ€™s Justice and Development Party AKP) is struggling with Istanbulâ€™s secularist establishment. This Turkish Party may become a model for their neighboring Arab neighbors. Although the current Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan (by the way he is of Georgian descent), is a political moderate and an effective populist administrator, the Constitutional Court has endeavored to expel the â€œIslamistâ€ government of Mr. Erdrogan for its religious overtones. The Court thought that the Justice and Development Party (Adalelet ve Kalina Paristi) were challenging the Secularist Charter of the Turkish State.
Fortunately for Erdogan, his Party took the popular vote in last yearâ€™s polls and thus nullified the censure of the Court!
Although a thoroughly successful politician, Recep Erdogan is a sincerely devout Muslim. In 1968 he was sentenced to ten years in prison for his religion.
This report comes from a symposium held at the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID) here in the District of Columbia. It was financed through two progressive Foundations: The Century Foundation headquartered at this city on the Chesapeake and the Heinrich Boll Foundation in Berlin.
Instead of throwing the five â€œtalking headsâ€ into one article, my approach will be to take the comments of each to analyze individually into digestible shorter articles to be published over several months, and, in so doing, to ask various questions of the relationship of Democratization within the Arab Middle East in comparison to the Turkish experience â€“ especially in regards to Islamization. I shall be composing an extended piece over the next several months from the segments. The first of the presenters I shall be discussing today is Ibrahim El-Houdaiby, a member of Egyptâ€™s Muslim Brotherhood.
Speaking about Egypt and the Arab World, we can all learn a lot from the Turkish experience. By accepting the presence of Secularism, Islam can avoid confrontation with Modernism. The AKP, by many assumed to be an Islamist Party, (but coming from Ankara, it is Islamism â€œlightâ€) did not feel they had to resort to violent struggle. The AKP refused to bring their struggle to the streets as other Islamic Movements did in The Republic of Turkey and in the greater (Arabic) Middle East, but rather marched within the confines of the electoral process itself.
When Prime Minister Tayyip Endrogan introduced himself internationally on his initial foreign journeys, first he went to Tehran and, then, to his second destination, Brussels. Domestically, this pleased the domestic Camp that learned toward Thracia; and the other Camp which gazed Eastward from Anatolia in the aspiration of reviving the historically (Islamic) Center of Istanbul in the (Ottoman) Caliphate (of the Muslims) â€“ that is, the Center of the Ummah!
The modern Republic of Istanbul is desperately under the revolver to recreate the required restructuring reforms to enter the European Union (E.U.). Thus, El-Houdaiby, extending this beyond Europe, added the pressures in his native North African environment, also, affirmed that internal reform must â€œdeal with corruption from withinâ€¦and [also] from without to avoid [any] endangerment to the [security of the] State!â€
In the Islamic State, such as Egyptâ€™s Muslim Brotherhood advocates, he asserts that minorities should always be represented within the Commonwealth! The Mullah, of course, has the spiritual status over the politician! This is significant amongst Islamic nations. Even though most Turkic citizens are merely pious; and, therefore, by no means divinely inspired through their Islam.
Speaking about Egypt Ibrahim El-Houdaidy uttered, â€œ[Turkey] canâ€™t have the ideology of Cairoâ€™s regime. It is no more than authoritarian!â€ Therefore, as an Islamist himself, he feels that the AKB are a much more responsive to the residents of their Commonweal.
The Muslim Brotherhood is a quite old (yet not a traditionally time-honored) organiztion. Amazingly, Ibrahim asserts that it is a richly varied, diverse, disciplined and, unexpectedly, democratic theocratic political Party! The Brotherhood being one of the older (inclined) Arab Islamic Movements, it can be measured on generational levels. Every decade the dominant discourse seems to change, but the association retains the evolution and sequence of its historical its roots! For these reason there is a lack of a dramatic conflict between generational gaps from its nativity until its political maturity of today. El-Houdaiby feels the Alexandrine level of education within the contemporary realm has made the difference! Curiously, Ibrahim Houdaiby makes the assertion that â€œNo other group in [the Middle East] has the [same quality of] Democracy!â€ [Sic!]
Further, contemporary technology has given the Movement — and Egyptian citizens in general — the freedom of the press! Blogging has provided an open safe space for public debates. â€œCyper Space has unlocked an opened discussion amongst an enlarged target audience within the homeland and the Diaspora.â€
As I mentioned earlier in this short study, I hope to go back to the other four commentators (Abdulhamit Bilici, Deputy-Editor-in Chief of the Zaman Daily; Abderazzk Makri, Movement for the Society of Peace in Algeria; Mohammed Yetim, Deputy Secretary for the General of the Party of Justice and Development in Morocco; and, finally, Geneive Abdo, Fellow at the Century Foundation and a Scholar on Contemporary Islam) to ask the question â€œIs Turkeyâ€™s Justice and Development Party [also] a Future Model for the Arab World [too]?â€ culled from this short comparative symposium over the Middle East that took place in the American â€œEmpireâ€™sâ€ Capital, over the upcoming months.