Turkey model OK minus secularism

Turkey model OK minus secularism

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey model OK minus secularism

Islamist protesters and their supporters run during clashes with armed ‘thugs’ after an attack on protesters in Cairo. Muslim Brotherhood candidate Hazem Farouk (inset) talks to Daily News Ankara Bureau chief Serkan Demirtaş. REUTERS photo

Turkey could be a model for the new Egypt, but its secular order may not be suitable, as the Egyptian constitution highlights sharia as the source of legislation, a prominent Egyptian lawmaker from the Muslim Brotherhood has said.

“Sharia is the source of legislation according to our constitution. A retreat from this could provoke Egyptian people against us,” Dr. Hazem Farouk, a member of the Egyptian Parliament from the ranks of the Freedom and Justice Party, political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, told a small group of reporters Tuesday in Ankara.

Expressing his party’s respect for secularism in its lexical meaning, but touching at the same time on the difficulty of implementing this principle in Egypt, Farouk said: “Compared to other nations, the Egyptian people are very respectful to religion. They defend and supports the freedom of religion.”
The discussion first came onto the agenda during Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to Egypt last year, where he promoted the merits of secularism to the Arab Spring countries. “I am not a secular person but I can rule a secular country,” he said, openly advising leaders of these countries to follow the same path for a healthy democratic order.

Egyptian lawmakers stressed that the new constitution, which is currently being written by a large commission, would surely protect the right of every citizen to practice his or her religion. The Freedom and Justice party came first in the recent Egyptian parliamentary elections with 36 percent of votes. Farouk serves as the general-secretary of the Egyptian Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee.

Turkey, Arabs could intervene in Syria

He said the new Egypt would be ruled by an administration fully reflecting the Egyptian people, just like in Turkey. “77.2 percent of the people approved the establishment of the Constitutional Commission,” he stated, adding that some figures from earlier administrations were still trying to stop this process. Farouk’s first encounter with Turks occurred in 2010, when he boarded the Mavi Marmara flotilla that was attacked by Israeli commandos on its way to Gaza. “I will never forget the heroism and bravery of the Turks who risked their lives to protect us,” he said.

On Syria, Farouk said Egypt was against the dissolution of the country, but that a military intervention by Turkey and Arab countries could be useful in forcing Bashar al-Assad to step down. Urging the international community to increase pressure on Syria and accusing Iran of backing al-Assad’s regime, Farouk said “the problems could be ended in Syria if Iran stopped supporting and providing weapons to the al-Assad regime.”
On the ongoing dispute with Israel, after Cairo decided to suspend the sale of natural gas to the country, Farouk recalled that Israel had not been paying the correct cost for the natural gas it used for more than a year, which gave the right to Egypt to cancel the deal. “The gas agreement was signed by the previous administration. The conditions of the deal were kept secret. We have since discovered that the price we offered to Israel was seven times lower than world averages,” Farouk said.