Example Of Essay On Can Turkey Be Used As A Democratic Model By Egypt?
Egypt is one of the oldest nations in the world. Primarily, the country is considered as a republic yet there are certain elements in Egypt’s political system that makes it less democratic than most established democracies in the world. While Egypt has a political system that features elected representatives, the country is non-secular. Officially known as the Arab Republic of Egypt, the country has adopted Islam as its official religion, which makes its political system quite similar to other Islamic states in the Middle East and on other parts of the globe. In this sense, Egypt’s political system may not be considered as totally democratic based on western standards of democracy. Like Egypt, Turkey has a predominantly Muslim population, but unlike Egypt, Turkey has already transitioned into a secular democracy despite the fact that the country has a long background of Muslim rule. Unlike many Arab countries in the Middle East, Turkey has stood up to its secular democracy despite pressures from the dominant Islamic population. So far, the country’s experiment with secular democracy has paid-off making it one of the most prosperous countries in the Middle East region. Recently, Egypt has been trying to transition into a secular democracy. After a riotous experience under Morsi’s presidency and his Muslim Brotherhood party in Egypt’s political arena in 2012, the country is now trying to establish a democratic government based on secularism. One of the most significant steps in this transition is the banning of political parties based on religion in 2014. As Egypt embarks on its democratic journey, the model of secular democracy in Turkey may hold the key to the successful adoption of secular democracy in Islamic Egypt.
Democracy in the Modern Context
Democracy in Egypt
As a republic, Egypt also holds elections in order to choose representatives that would exercise power for them. However, Egypt has been ruled by Pharaohs and emperors for so many years that most Egyptians see no issue in being ruled by an authoritarian government. As observed by scholars, “This experience produced a propensity toward authoritarian government that persisted into modern times”. But despite the tendency to go back to authoritarian rule, the tenure of such regime also depends on the people’s approval and expectations. As proven in Egypt’s long history of political upheavals, authoritarian regimes that do not live up to the people’s expectations are eventually replaced through revolutions, coups and even assassinations. Authoritarian regimes, however, have no stability, especially in a culture where public opinion matters. Democracy is still a work in progress in Egypt. Although the country was declared by its first president, Muhammad Najib, as a republic in 1953, the nature of Egypt’s political system is still largely authoritarian. Egypt has a complex parliamentary form of government. Egypt’s political system is complex in a sense that while there is a president and a prime minister, the president is considered as the center of power. According to its constitution, the president assumes the role of being the supreme commander and can declare war, “concludes treaties, proposes and vetoes legislation, and may rule through decree under emergency powers that have been regularly delegated by parliament”. Egypt also has a legislative body known as the ‘People’s Assembly’ whose primary function is to create laws and provide a ‘check and balance’ to the power of the executive branch. However, according to observers, “it has never effectively exercised these constitutional checks on the executive”. The regime of Gamal Abdel Nasser has also brought a lasting impact to Egypt’s current political system. In his bid to legitimize his position as a leader of the Islamic world, Nasser’s regime adopted the Islamic religion to serve as the major basis of the country’s legislation and justice. During the regime of Morsi, the Islam-dominated parliament even boosted the role of Islam in Egypt’s constitution, which resulted to the further restriction of the freedom of speech and assembly. A military coup overthrows Morsi’s regime and another election was made in 2014 with Abdul Fattah al-Sisi being elected as president. Currently, the country is still struggling to establish a secular democracy. In 2014, the country has banned religious political parties, which is a significant step in establishing a secular democracy. However, being a country run under Muslim laws and traditions, Egyptian constitution has little tolerance for freedom of speech and has a different perspective when it comes to civil rights as compared to established democracies.
Turkey as a Democratic Model
Turkey’s road to democracy was a long and arduous journey. In many aspects, Turkey is similar with Egypt. If there is any democratic country that could serve as a role model for Egypt, Turkey is most likely the strongest contender. Just like Egypt, Turkey is also one of the oldest inhabited countries in the region. The country has also been home to the world’s oldest civilization and has played a significant role in human history. Like Egypt, Turkey has been conquered and ruled by a succession of different ethnicities, empires and foreign powers. Historians believe that the land has been inhabited as early as 7,000 B.C. and has witnessed the rise and fall of several empires in history (Aschner, Bane, Kaiser, & Sène, 2009, p.4). Beginning with the Hittites who ruled Turkey in the 8th century, the country has also been under the Persian Empire in the 6th century B.C. until it was conquered by the Greeks through Alexander the Great in 334 B.C. Turkey was also conquered by the Romans and later became the center of the Byzantine Empire. Just like Egypt, Turkey was also conquered by the Islamic Ottoman Empire in the 15th century, when Sultan Mehmed II captured Constantinople. For more than four centuries, Turkey has been under Islamic rule under the Ottoman Empire, making most of its inhabitants predominantly Muslim. In fact, 99.8% of the Turks are Muslims (Aschner, Bane, Kaiser, & Sène, 2009, p.6). But despite the predominantly Muslim population, Turkey has long decided to become a secular state. According to historians, the decision to make Turkey a secular democracy was reached during the Mustafa Kemal regime in 1928 when Kemal pushed for the removal of Islam as a state religion in the constitution. Kemal’s social and political reforms created the backbone of modern Turkey, which earned him the title of ‘Ataturk’ or ‘Father of the Turks’. Kemal’s reforms, especially the decision of making Turkey a secular state, has wide ranging implications for the country. Unlike other predominantly Muslim states, Islamic traditions were not imposed and even removed from public life of the Turks while “construction of mosques was halted, schools were secularized, and many religious activities were prohibited” (Aschner, Bane, Kaiser, & Sène, 2009, p.6).
As Egypt transitions into a secular democracy, Turkey’s democratic form of government can be used as a model primarily because Egypt and Turkey shares similar circumstances historically, politically, socially and culturally. Adoption of a secular democracy is, thereby, feasible considering that Turkey was able to do so with positive results. One of the major advantages of the separation of religion and the state is in establishing a national identity apart from the Islamic identity associated with most Islamic states. A secular Egypt would also make the country more tolerant towards minorities and promote pluralism and diversity. In order to advance economically, socially and politically, Egypt should adopt Turkey’s secular democracy. Just like Turkey, Egypt should separate itself from religious affiliations as it acts for the benefit not only of the majority, but of every individual within the jurisdiction of the state.
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