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Interview with Turkey's Abdullah Gul: Egypt should embrace secularism

In an interview, Turkey's President Abdullah Gul says that Egypt should embrace secularism based on a 'respect for all faiths;' that Russia's role in ending violence in Syria is key and Moscow needs to be engaged to act constructively; and that economic power in the world is shifting.

This combination of two photos shows Egyptian presidential candidates, from left, Ahmed Shafiq (Hosni Mubarak's last prime minister) and Mohammed Morsi (of the Muslim Brotherhood). The two will contest next month's runoff vote. Turkish President Abdullah Gul says: 'If you use the Anglo-Saxon interpretation of secularism, as practiced in the United States or the United Kingdom, it is something that people should feel comfortable with. All it means is a separation of the state and religion.'

Khalil Hamra; Nasser Nasser/AP/file

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Abdullah Gul is the president of Turkey. He was interviewed by Global Viewpoint Network editor Nathan Gardels during his visit to the United States for the NATO summit in Chicago earlier this month.

Nathan Gardels: Due to the rapid rise of the emerging powers, American-led Globalization 1.0 is yielding to a new era – Globalization 2.0 – characterized by “non-Western modernity” and the interdependence of plural identities. The two fastest-growing economies in the world are China, which is reviving some of its old Confucian ways as it prospers, and Turkey, a secular state ruled by an Islamic-oriented party.

How do you see this evolving world looking out from the old Ottoman Empire?

Abdullah Gul: What we are seeing today is a circle completing itself. A couple of centuries ago, China was the most important economy in the world. Then the industrial revolution came and England moved forward, followed by the United States. Now, once again, the center of economic gravity in the world is going back to where it was. More wealth is being spread around to others. We live in a plural world with many power centers. Identities can no longer be prioritized as “Western” or “Islamic” or “Chinese.”


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