Today’s Zaman reports:
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has reiterated his response to Arabs who were discontent with the prime minister’s call to build a secular state, saying that his words were mistranslated and that secularism does not mean being against the religion.
Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), which was successful in marrying Islam and democracy, has become a model for much of the Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and other political groups such as Tunisia’s long banned Ennahda movement, as they prepare for the first free vote since decades-old rule in Egypt and Tunisia were ended earlier this year.
Erdoğan spoke about secularism in Egypt earlier this week, saying Turkey prefers a model of secularism that is not identical to the “Anglo-Saxon or Western model,” without elaborating. “Individuals cannot be secular, states are. A devout Muslim can successfully govern a secular state,” Erdoğan then said.
Erdoğan, while speaking in Tunisia about secularism, said his “secularism” term was translated as “irreligiousness” in Egypt that caused a confusion among Arabs. He offered an explanation for the Muslim Brotherhood’s anger at his words in Cairo and said his words were misunderstood because of a translation mistake.
Asked about his secularism remarks in Libya on Friday during a press conference with Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil, Erdoğan reiterated that his remarks were mistranslated and that secularism is not about being an enemy of religion.