The Islamists talk Turkey

While I was delightfully off-grid in Wales last weekend (where the only twitter was from the birds in the apple orchard), lots of interesting stuff probably happened here. You can read about it elsewhere. We haven’t talked about last week’s news yet.

So Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyep Erdogan and his headscarved wife Emine paid a visit to Cairo, sort of a victory lap to celebrate Turkey’s new status as a leader in the region.  On my way to the airport I saw the billboards — didn’t get a photo, but found one online.  They said, somewhat unimaginatively: “Together, one hand for the sake of the future.”  (As my friend Hazem noted, this “one hand” business is getting rather overused. The people and the army — one hand. Christians and Muslims — one hand.  Now Egypt and Turkey — one hand.  Do we even know where that hand has been?)

Erdogan’s authoritarian tendencies are starting to worry my Turkish friends, but never mind. The Egyptian papers duly reported on his spouse visiting a children’s cancer hospital and even noted the increasing popularity of the Turkish-style headscarf at hijab fashion shows in the region.  He got quite a hero’s welcome here. (As one Egyptian had tweeted, in Arabic, upon Turkey’s expulsion of the Israeli ambassador: “The world really is round! You make a wish in Giza, and it comes true in Ankara.”)

But Erdogan surprised some of his Egyptian supporters by emphasizing that he is the leader of a secular Muslim state, not an Islamic one. He called for a secular Egypt, which, as The Jerusalem Post among others gleefully reported, led to a certain cooling of the Muslim Brotherhood’s attitude toward their visiting Turkish brother.

On the “one hand” thing, by the way (I’m interested in how metaphors of embodiment are used to rhetorically bind together a body politic, not to say a Leviathan):

“The Believers, in their mutual love, mercy and compassion, are like one body: if one organ complained, the rest of the body develops a fever.” [Bukhari & Muslim]



And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.” (Matthew 5:30)


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