Muslim Brotherhood gives Erdogan 'hero's' welcome at Cairo Airport

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011
Erdogan Fall 2011

Erdogan (right) arrives in Cairo Airport

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister of Turkey and head of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, was greeted at Cairo International Airport Monday night by thousands of Muslim Brotherhood members who chanted and waved signs.

Erdogan and his wife are expected to stay in Egypt until Wednesday.

"I'm very happy that Erdogan is here. The people of Egypt love him and I'm sure he is going to do some good for us," said Tamer Sayyid Abdel Aziz, a 29-year-old from Mounifaya who wasn't part of the Muslim Brotherhood but was there because he works at the airport.

Egyptian Prime Minister Essam Sharaf arrived via motorcade approximately 30 minutes earlier and was well recieved by the Egyptians who were waving AK Party, Egyptian, and Muslim Brotherhood flags while holding giant portraits of Erdogan.

The crowd also held up massive banners that said "The Muslim Brotherhood welcomes the hero Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey" in Arabic.

Alternating between chanting "Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar," and "Erdogan, Erdogan, A thousand greetings from the Muslim Brotherhood" the jubilant crowd stood for over an hour in anticipation of the Turkish prime minister's arrival.

Mohamed Hosni Mohamed, a 27-year-old bus driver from Giza denied being in a political party but told The Caravan that "He [Erdogan] is a righteous man and we should support him, I hope he goes to Gaza." When asked about the political situation Mohamed said: "The army has done a good job but I don't support the current government".

He did acknowledge, however, that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces was in charge of Egypt after the January 25 uprising that led to the removal of former President Hosni Mubarak.

Erdogan is expected to sign military and economic agreements on Tuesday as well as deliver a speech at the Cairo Opera House in the late afternoon. After the recent breaking of diplomatic relations with Israel over the killing of eight Turkish activists trying to deliver aid to Palestinians, Erdogan expressed a desire to travel to Egypt's Rafah border crossing so that he can visit the Gaza Strip - Palestinian territory that has been blockaded by Israel since June of 2007.

However, the Egyptian government has announced that this won't be possible due to the security situation in the Sinai Peninsula.

Last Friday,Egyptian protesters in Tahrir Square marched to the Israeli embassy and destroyed a concrete security wall before entering its offices and throwing thousands of Israeli documents out the seventh floor window. Some of the protesters held portraits of the PM Erdogan.

The event forced the Israeli ambassador and his staff to flee the country.

Accompanying Erdogan today is a large delegation of Turkish businessmen who met earlier at the Turkish Ambassador's residence in Giza to mingle with Egypt's business elite.

"After the revolution we can visit Turkey with more ease," said Mahmoud Salman, a 24-year old Egyptian who runs works at an import-export business in Alexandria. "I've been there before and I'm expecting to meet my Turkish friends tonight."

Egypt's economy, which primarily relies on tourism, has suffered since the Arab awakening that started in Tunisia and spread to Egypt in late January.

Increased trade along will direct foreign investment from Turkey will greatly reduce the need for risky monetary policies by the central bank who has to deal with inflation and the demand for higher wages in the large government sector.

Photo by Nada Badawi.