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EGYPT: Erdogan hailed as hero

February 2, 2009 |  7:10 am


By recently walking off the stage after a clash with the Israeli president over the Gaza Strip at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was viewed as a hero among Arabs who accuse their own leaders of not standing up to the Jewish state.

Erdogan was provoked when the moderator interrupted him while he was responding to comments made by Israeli President Shimon Peres, who defended Israel's military incursion into Gaza. Outraged at being cut off, Erdogan gathered his papers and walked out, saying: “And so Davos is over for me from now on.”

He had earlier told Peres: “When it comes to killing, you know well how to kill.”

Erodogan’s reaction was hailed as heroic by observers in Egypt. Many wondered why Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, who was among the participants at the Davos meeting, failed to react or challenge Peres the way the Turkish prime minister did.

Prominent Egyptian writer Fahmi Howeidi was quoted on the official website of the Muslim Brotherhood as saying: “Erdogan exposed Amr Moussa, who should have walked out of the session as well so that Erdogan would not appear more concerned about the Palestinians than him. However, Moussa appeared more at peace with the situation.”

Political analyst Amr El-Choubaki criticized Moussa’s attitude in the independent El-Masry El-Youm daily, contending that: “It exposed the attitude of the Arab world and the Arab league, which always react. We applaud Erdogan and sympathize with him without taking a similar action.”

Political-science scholar Hassan Nafae wrote in El-Masry El-Youm:

“After watching this exciting scene, I could not stop comparing the reaction of leaders like Erdogan and that of Arab leaders if they were put in similar situations. I did not take too much time to reach the conclusion that there was a huge difference between the two; the comparison comes in disfavor of our leaders. The reason is clear. Our leaders don’t believe in anything anymore except their lust to hold onto their thrones and collect money through illegal channels.”

In Lebanon, Erdogan’s action resonated strongly as well. Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad El-Sanioura, whose country is still in a state of animosity with Israel, sent a thank-you message to Erdogan. He wrote:

“We followed with a lot of pride and appreciation the stand that you took during the Davos forum. Your walking out of the meeting, your explicit defense of the Palestinian right and your support of your brothers who were killed unjustly by the Israeli war machinery show your genuineness and commitment to the spirit of fraternity.”

—Noha El-Hennawy in Cairo

Photo: Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, left, and President Shimon Peres of Israel on Thursday at a discussion on Gaza in Davos, Switzerland, before the former walked out. Credit: Laurent Gillieron /Keystone/Associated Press

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