Between Ghol and Erdogan

By Mohammad Aburumman

تم نشره في Sun 20 November / Nov 2016. 12:00 AM
  • Mohammad Aburumman

Perhaps, the most dominant characteristic, up close, of former Turkish President Abdullah Gul, despite his obvious diplomacy in replies to our questions at “Al Ghad”, is his credibility and sincere faith in what he says; particularly in his obvious clutching to the pluralist democratic discourse, and the decoding of the relation between Islam and Secularism in a simple, sequential, direct dialect!

Gul avoided highlight differences with current Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan; chief of the Justice and Development Party, and his co-founder in the establishment of the party that has transformed the Turkish Islamist Movement to the post political Islamist stage, and out of the void of running in circles.

Yet, despite his efforts, one can detect point of variance between the two men; hidden between the lines. Gul said he wishes for the Party to go back to its course. Also, when he explained why he has been out of the political sphere recently, he criticised the idea of clutching to power through the circulation of positions and office. More so, Gul also disagrees with Erdogan on some of Turkey’s policies towards the region, whilst insisting on the preservation of peoples’ rights in democracy and the rejection of authoritativeness and violence.

Gul’s value goes beyond the fact that he was Turkey’s president for 7 years, a prime minister, a foreign minister, and an economist with a prominent role in the transcendence of Turkey from a whirlpool of mafia and political corruption to an economically advanced state, recognised worldwide, in such a brief duration of time. Moreover, his value also incorporates his role as an Islamist leader in the inception of the “Justice and Development” vision, along with Erogan, Ahmet Davutoğlu, and others, and the depiction of a thoroughly democratic, modern dynamic, which drove shift from sentimental idealism to realistic national political rationalism.

When asked about the experiment of the Party and his evaluation of the Islamist endeavours in the Arab region, he took the discussion down a route that seemed off target, but in fact, it led down to the very heart of the topic. He said: “when a certain party come unto power, it may have major successes and achievement, notwithstanding, certain shortcomings, just as well. And in politics, the party typically, in their own defence, depict even their failures as successes. That said, this should not be blamed on Islam as a religion in general. There are curbs in the political trajectory of a party, with some pointing towards success, while other towards failures and shortcomings. It is only natural.

“When we see our tolerant Islamic religion calling for the right and just service of society, in accordance to the commandments of Allah and His greatest prophet, Mohammad, PBUH, regardless of race and ethnicity, while the political implementation of it gone wrong, blaming it on Islam itself is wrong.”

Furthermore, he adds: “when we talk about an Islamic party in a country like Turkey, where 99 per cent of the population is Muslim, does that mean that the party actually aggregates a proportionally equivalent result in the ballot box? Of course not. This is why we need to initiate a phase in which society and our people are serviced all inclusively, for the movement or the party to be evaluated and appreciated properly.”

Between the lines of Gul’s answers are features of a holistically new Islamic discourse and dialect; very different from the superficial discourses Arab Eastern Islamic movements are trying to constitute. It structurally moves through new ideas that are critical of the Islamic Party in the very core, redirecting focus on the “programme-approach”. And when bringing up democracy, secularism, and Islam, he seems to be convinced that there are standards that are comprised in the example of governance and transparency, which in the end set parties apart from their competition.

The charms of the many political and economic successes of the Turkish experiment and the speeches of the popular President Erdogan, should not blind us from the concrete basis which formulate the real pivot point in the Party’s trajectory there, as Gul did it.