Erdogan, in Tunis on the second stop of a North African tour aimed at asserting Ankara’s growing regional influence, said secularism should guarantee that people of all beliefs, as well as atheists, were treated fairly.
He said there was nothing to stop a Muslim from governing a secular state.
Tunisia plans to hold elections on Oct 23 to select an assembly to rewrite the constitution, nine months after the revolt that swept away President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and sparked uprisings around the Arab world.
Islamist party Ennahda, banned for two decades under Ben Ali, is expected to poll strongly, unnerving Tunisian secularists. Erdogan said the country should have nothing to fear from the influence of Islam in politics.
“The most important thing of all, and Tunisia will prove this, (is that) Islam and democracy can exist side by side,” he told a joint news conference with counterpart Beji Caid Sebsi.
“Turkey, as a country which is 99 per cent Muslim, does this comfortably, we do not have any difficulty. There is no need to hinder this by putting forward different approaches. In the broadest sense, consultation will put forward the will of the people,” he said.
More than 90 political parties have sprung up in Tunisia since Ben Ali’s fall. Ennahda is seen with around 20 percent in the polls.
“Tunisia and Turkey confirm that there is no contradiction between Islam and democracy,” Sebsi, a secularist, said.
AL QAEDA THREAT: Erdogan has been holding up Turkey’s blend of Islam and democracy as a model for the movements which have toppled entrenched Arab autocrats in Tunis, Cairo and Tripoli.
“On the subject of secularism, this is not a secularism in the Anglo-Saxon or western sense. A person is not secular, the state is secular,” Erdogan said.
“A Muslim can govern a secular state in a successful way.”
Sebsi said they had discussed the relation between religion and the state as well as ways to fight security threats in a turbulent region — with a reference to Al Qaeda.
Tunisian officials have warned that Al Qaeda could be exploiting the Libyan conflict to acquire weapons and smuggle them into other countries. Tunisia arrested several men with suspected links to the group’s North African branch near the border earlier this year. After Erdogan received a rapturous welcome in Cairo this week, hundreds of Tunisians turned out to greet the Turkish premier at Tunis airport late on Wednesday, clutching portraits of him and hoisting banners reading “Welcome Erdogan!”
Ennahda leader Rachid Ghannouchi joined the crowds, praising Erdogan as someone who had “worked hard for Islam”.
Ennahda, a moderate Islamist movement which has close ties with Erdogan’s AK Party, has said Turkey’s political model is something it aspires to—Reuters
Source: Daily Dawn
Several questions arose in my exhausted brain after reading this. I've got the worst toddler-hangover (if there is such a thing) in the history of hangovers! And it didn't help when I read this piece too, take a look:
Arabs to avoid targeting Israel at UN atom meeting
VIENNA: Arab states will refrain from targeting Israel over its assumed nuclear arsenal at a global meeting of UN atomic agency member countries next week, diplomats said on Thursday, an unexpected gesture of restraint sure to be welcomed by the West. [Source: Daily Dawn]
Unexpected gesture of restraint?? More like predictably disgusting gesture of spinelessness! I feel like punching something. Bad.
Anyway, this Islam with democracy question. It's been on my mind a lot, and reading this only cropped further questions in my mind. There are quite a few people now who say that Erdogan's version of political Islam doesn't really simulate the political Islam which had been introduced in Medina, and brought forward till the Ottomans. The political system that PM Erdogan has implemented in Turkey is a western system, only that he's trying to make it wear Islam's clothing.
Having said that, there is a vast majority of people who think that Erdogan has brought a revolutionary change in Turkey, because this was the center of the destruction of the Ottoman Empire, and converted into a completely secular state. Once the Ottoman Empire was lost, nothing could be done to bring back Turkey to practice Islam for its citizens. Except what Erdogan has done now. Based on the foundation laid by Arbakan.
[Did anybody know Arbakan was an engineer ? *grin*]
Khair. The question is: Which of the two points of view are true? If Turkey was afraid of even calling people to salah (giving adhan), at one time, is it not a big change what Turkey is, right now? If Ataturk had followed a completely secular model, then is it not a change that the Turkish rulers are the only ones now, openly challenging Israel?
On the other hand, what in the world does Erdogan mean when he says, 'A person is not secular, the state is secular'.
My quest for answers continues :(.
So long folks.