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Youm7 Seminar: Egypt, democracy and the Turkish experience  Join our daily free Newsletter

MENAFN - Youm7 - 25/10/2011

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(MENAFN - Youm7) The Turkish democratic experience cannot be copied or imitated by Egypt, according to Mustafa el-Fiqi, a professor of political science at Cairo University. El-Fiqi said despite the similarities, there are many differences between Egypt and Turkey.

El-Fiqi's comments came during a conference hosted by Youm7 Center for Political Studies in cooperation with the Strategic Thinking Institute of Ankara, titled 'Democratization and Legal Constitutional Changes in Egypt and Turkey.'

El-Fiqi said there are too many differences between Egpt and Turkey to apply the came constitutional model, as secularism must be applied in Egypt because Egypt has no Atatrk, considered the father of modern Turkey.

El-Fiqi did, however, welcome mutual cooperation between both countries. He referred to Turkish Prime Minister Reccep Tayyeb Erdogan's visit to Cairo after the January 25 Revolution, which was warmly welcomed by Egyptian Islamists.

He added that secularism is not so easily applied in Egypt.

He warned of talking about democratization in Egypt, adding that Egypt's economic and political situations should be taken into consideration.

Copying and imitating the Turkish experience would be very difficult for Egypt now, but might be possible after 15 years, el-Fiqi added.

"In Egypt, we suffer from the Pharaohs. Every ruler in the presidency catches all eyes and we see another pharaoh. If the parliamentary regime achieved after years, it would be able to destroy this [cycle,]" said el-Fiqi.

The conference was opened with a speech by Youm7 Chairman Walid Mustafa, who said, " The positive impacts of the Turkish experience became clear as fruitful economic and political success appeared. Turkish political leadership has won the admiration of fair Arab nations and the world nations for this achievement."

" When the uprisings of the Arab Spring began, we noticed Turkey emerging as an effective regional power amidst the turmoil. Turkey reacted differently toward each revolution: it was indecisive regarding the Tunisian revolution, but its reaction toward Egypt was powerful and clear. Turkey looked for a diplomatic solution toward the situation in Bahrain, and was conservative regarding Libya. Turkey also tried to seek a different approach in Syria until announcing support for Syrian revolutionaries," Dr. Mustafa continued.

He said Egypt's revolution became an inspiring model for all nations of the world. "Egypt ousted the thrones of injustice, oppression, and tyranny," he said. "Egypt's youth, men, and women are seeking values, principles and ethics through a civilian government, which will move Egypt toward the horizon of advanced and civilized nations."

He added that Youm7's goal in holding the conference was to act as a bridge to reach its readers without pre-political, religious, or sectarian ideologies.

Commenting on Dr. Walid's speech on Turkey's stance towards the Arab Spring revolutions, Seluk University professor Yasin Aktay said Turkey supported the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia, but in Libya the situation was different as the people were divided.

Aktay said Turkey tried to reconcile between the disputing parties. He quoted the Quranic verse, " If two groups of believers fight with each other, you shall reconcile them. If one group aggresses against the other, you shall fight the aggressing group until they submit to God's command. Once they submit, you shall reconcile the two groups equitably. You shall maintain justice; God loves those who are just."

Aktay also tackled the issue of democracy in Turkey and its historical changes, which began at the end of the 19th century. In the beginning, Turkey was a one-party system. After World War II, Turkish democracy transformed to a multi-party system.

However, he said Turkey does not have complete democracy, as the constitution is passed by the army. Aktay said the army takes measures against any trend who tries to come to power. Furthermore, he said political parties' activities are limited.

He added that the Turkish people are now starting to call for change and for a constitution to represent all branches of Turkish society.

Ahmet Uysal, a Middle Eastern Studies professor at Eskisehir Osmangazi University, said Turkey cares about the Arab nations, especially Egypt. He said there is an analogy in democratization between both countries, as Turkey took democracy from the army and Egypt's army is watching the democratization.

Turkish Ambassador to Cairo Al-Hussein Avni Botsali said there is cooperation between Egypt and Turkey but thtat Turkey cannot say what to or not to do, as this is an Egyptian affair.

Ginab Shaqmaq, professor at Eskisehir Osmangazi, said in his speech that the constitution is the identity of the country and signifies a contract between the people and the government. He added that the Turkish constitution adopts certain things from European constitutions.

Regarding external and internal factors that affect democratization in Egypt, Bakinam Sharqawi, a political science professor at Cairo University and the British University in Egypt, said Egypt will not be subjected to foreign intervention anymore, especially from the U.S. administration. As for applying the EU constitution in Arab countries, she said this is important because there are differences between Arab and Western countries. Moreover, she said, there are disputes among Arab and Western states regarding building democracy.

Sharqawi said focusing on the external affairs and neglecting internal affairs triggered Egypt's January 25 Revolution. She refereed to ousted president Hosni Mubarak's son, Gamal, who did not care about the people.

Zainab Dagi, a professor at Istanbul Technical University and ex-member of the Turkish Justice and Development Party, gave a speech about the future of democracy. When she was a member of the committee to Gaza after the Israeli attack on the Freedom Flotilla, she passed through Egypt. She said she asked Egyptian parliamentarians why Muslim Brotherhood members were not in the parliament, a d they told her that there is a fear of the Islamists on Egypt's Christian minority.

Daji said she admires the Egyptian and Arab uprisings that inspired the world. She gave the example that one of the Occupy Wall Street protesters in the United States said, "We started this movement because the Egyptians became a model for us."

She said this statement shows the power of Egypt.


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