Erdogan, Zapatero and the Alliance of Civilizations
In a sign of his simmering anger about what he sees as baseless accusations against Islam in the West, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s prime minister, has called on the international community to declare the enmity against Islam a “crime against humanity”.
Addressing Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, his Spanish counterpart, and about 2,500 other guests in Istanbul at a celebratory iftar meal on Monday, Mr Erdogan said: “No culture, no civilisation should belittle the other, despise the other or see the other as an enemy.” […]
In the Alliance of Civilisations, Mr Erdogan has emerged as a leading representative of the Islamic countries, said Semih Idiz, a foreign policy columnist with the daily Milliyet. As a politician with roots in political Islam and leader of a party that has many pious Muslims among its voters, Mr Erdogan is very sensitive to what he sees as western prejudices towards Muslims, Mr Idiz said.
(Zapatero) used his trip to Istambul to defend that EU needs Turks to achieve the “projection and the strategic leadership that today, in some cases, it does not have”. A vision that is not supported neither by French President, Sarkozy, nor German Chancellor, Angela Merkel.
His insistence in the suitability of Turkish entry in the EU is related to his defense of the Alliance of Civilizations, an initiative that is seen by Erdogan with the same enthusiam as Zapatero. And it explains fully why the Prime Minister and leader of moderate Islamist political party AKP (Development and Justice) has invited Zapatero to the banquet by which Muslims break Ramadam’s fast.
(…) Rodríguez Zapatero, a so committed laicist that he provoked uneasiness in the Vatican when he refused to attend the Pope’s Mass in Valencia in July 2007, thanked Erdogan because of his “hospitality” and stated before nearly 2.500 people attending the banquet his will to enjoy of the celebration not as a “foreigner, but with the attitude of someone who is President of Spain, a country which is proud of the influence of Islam in our history and of its rich legacy in our language and in our artistic heritage”.
The ceremony was very simple. A supper which began with a prayer and ended with two speeches. Zapatero was also given a rug, similar to the one which is used for praying.
What would happen if Don John of Austria and the rest of Spanish people who fought at Lepanto would rise from the dead? Perhaps they would die again out of emotion…
By the way, anyone seeing any contradiction between being a “convinced laicist” and attending an Islamic prayer?