Though Turkey has witnessed four military coups since 1960 – the latest, in 1997, pushed from power the overtly Islamist Welfare Party, the precursor to the more moderate AKP – Turkey’s democratic development is seen as a worthy example by some activists from Tunis to Cairo.
As an economic powerhouse with a determined tradition of secular rule since the 1920s that has also found democratic space for a moderate Islamic leadership, Turkey has pushed its appeal on several levels.
“The Arab street thinks that if it can happen in Turkey, it may also happen in their countries,” says Mr. Aktar. “This being said … comparing [Turkey’s transformation] – especially in Egypt – we should not be naive. That will take much more time, for the Muslim Brotherhood and other political movements in Arab countries to become another AKP. It’s a long process, but we are on the right track.”
While tens of thousands of protesters in Egypt have rallied to topple Mubarak after 30 years of rule, Egyptian intellectuals have commented on the benefits of Turkey’s model.