Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Ankara leads the way

Turkey's impressive decade of growth through "calm revolution" offers lessons to Arab nations, an Arabic language columnist writes in today's opinion roundup. Other topics: protecting Arabic and promoting Egyptian cinema.

Turkey's impressive decade of growth through 'calm revolution' offers lessons to Arab nations

Nine Arab journalists were recently invited by Besir Atalay, the deputy prime minister of Turkey, to gain closer insight into that country's success. The comments of one of those invited shows how impressed they were.

Turkey's success story is only 10 years old. In this short period, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has positioned his country among the fastest- developing nations in the world, remarked Taoufik Bouachrine in the Moroccan paper Akhbra Al Youm.

A number of factors attest to this progress. Today, Turkey's per capita income is $11,000, up from $3,000 a decade ago. "A greater income means fewer problems", as a senior Turkish official told the visitors.

The once-all-powerful Turkish army has returned to its barracks. Its role now is to protect borders, while staying away from politics. The once-politicised Supreme Court has also changed.

Now, Turkey is about to make a constitutional amendment with a view to introduce a US-style presidential system, and a parliamentary system that ensures minority representation.

Granted, Turkey still has some issues tracked by rights organisations. Yet it is among the full-fledged democratic nations, where elections are fair and freedom of expression guaranteed.

Asked by Bouachrine about the secret behind the popularity of the ruling Islamic Justice and Development Party (JDP) despite 10 years in government and a rooted secular legacy, Mr Atalay replied that the party has made a calm revolution, by first building a new party with a new way of thinking.

After heated debates on the JDP's identity among conservative and progressive figures, the party was consensually defined as democratic and conservative, driven by the need for public service, not by ideology.

"Our party is like an umbrella that embraces anyone willing to get underneath it, and it does not place restrictions on any one willing to walk out," Mr Atalay said. "This is why the JDP has now 8.5 million supporters, including 3.5 million women."

Mr Atalay noted that Mr Erdogen used to comfort party members when they felt worried, saying "Don't be afraid of freedom and have trust in society … we are a democratic party that doesn't permit its members to run for parliament more than three terms, or its premier to last in office more than three terms".

Turkey offers a good example of democratic transition and economic progress for a country with more than 70 million population.

"Are you one of the JDP's supporters," the writer asked a Turkish shuttle bus driver. "No," he said with a smile.

But, asked "Did you vote for Erdogan's party in the last election?" he replied "Yes". He explained that "I voted for Erdogan's JDP because my income as a cab driver increased after the JDP fixed the roads and solved some of the traffic jams."

Protecting Arabic must begin at home

Leading linguists and researchers from around the world gathered in Dubai May 7-9 for the Second International Conference on the Arabic Language. The meeting's theme: "The Arabic language in danger: We are all partners in protecting it".

"Yes, we are all partners in protecting it, but how?", Iraqi novelist Shaker Nouri commented in the UAE-based Al Bayan.

When English as a foreign language overshadows native Arabic, there is good reason to worry. Arab pupils do not learn English the way western countries learn foreign languages. In each western country, the mother tongue has top priority.

"Some Arabs, especially the young generation, are so culturally alienated that they ignore their mother tongue in favour of another language," he wrote.

"In France, I saw that Arab communities, particularly those hailing from the Maghreb, have become alienated to the extent of forgetting their mother tongue. The responsibility for that lies chiefly with parents."

You cannot blame other nations for seeking to assimilate immigrants and erase their languages, he wrote, and this is part of wider policies of "la francophone" and the "anglosphere", he wrote.

Rather, the really worrisome problem is parents pursuing such policies with their own offspring. "Let's be real partners in protecting our language; let's start with our children," the writer urged.

Egyptian cinema gets sick but never dies

"'Egyptian cinema gets sick but it will never die … this was my answer to a question from the [Tunisian] veteran filmmaker, Nouri Bouzid, who asked me about the current state of Egyptian cinema," wrote Khaled Mahmoud in the Cairo-based Al Shorouk.

"I realised what Bouzid meant," the writer said. "I could see it in his eyes." There is a sentiment among Arab elites that Egyptian cinema has gone downhill, and no longer enjoys the aura and glamour it once had.

The Egyptian film industry has been marred by a lack of creativity. A number of producers and distributors have imposed their commercial products through trite dialogues and clichéd scripts, within an escapist vision that aims solely to maximise profits, he argued.

Against this backdrop, filmmakers who once contributed to the heyday of Egyptian cinema have shrunk from the spotlight. High-calibre artists like Daoud Abdel Sayed, Mohamed Hamed and Khairi Beshara - and others who have fresh idea - are lamenting an Egyptian cinema industry that repels their creativity.

But this setback will pass, and the doors of cinema shall open to the talented filmmakers, especially the youth who must not get disappointed as the veteran ones did.


* Digest compiled by Abdelhafid Ezzouitni


Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Ali Benflis, opposition leader and main rival to Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika speaks to the press after casting his vote in the presidential elections at a polling station in Algiers on. Former prime minister Benflis ran against Bouteflika in 2004 but lost heavily, charging the vote was rigged 10 years ago and has said fraud will be his ‘main adversary’ during the election. Patrick Baz / AFP Photo

Best photography from around the world, April 17

The National View's photo editors pick the best images of the day from around the world.

 Above, the private pool of Ocean Heights' five-bedroom penthouse flat. Courtesy Christie’s International Real Estate

In pictures: Penthouse flat is height of Dubai luxury living

A five-bedroom penthouse in Ocean Heights in Dubai Marina is on sale for Dh25 million and comes with a private pool and an unparalleled view of Dubai.

Video: Local reactions to a national fishing ban

A federal fishing ban has been imposed by the UAE federal government, but local authorities are taking diiferent approaches to implementing the ban. Two fishermen tell two very different sides of the story. Produced by Paul O'Driscoll

 Walter Zenga is one win away from claiming silverware for the first time in the UAE. Karim Jaafar / AFP

Walter Zenga seeks early retribution at Al Jazira in Arabian Gulf Cup final

A victory over Al Ahli in the Arabian Gulf Cup final will help prove the Italian has turned around the fortunes of the capital club.

 The new Bentley GT Speed convertible on display at a press event of the New York International Auto Show. Jason Szenes / EPA

In pictures: Hot cars at New York International Auto Show

With more than 1 million visitors annually, the New York International Auto Show is one of the most important shows for the US car industry. Here are some of the vehicles to be shown in this year’s edition.

 The cast of Fast & Furious 7, including Michelle Rodriguez and Vin Diesel, centre, on set at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Fast & Furious 7 filming in full swing at Emirates Palace

Filming for Fast & Furious 7 has started and we have the first photos of the cast and crew on set at Emirates Palace hotel this morning. Visitors staying at Emirates Palace say they have been kept away from certain areas in the grounds.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National