Khairat al-Shater, presidential candidate for Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, has been touted in a campaign song played during election rallies as “Egypt’s Erdoğan,” a reference by the Islamist group to Turkey’s Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
“He is Egypt’s new Erdoğan, he is coming to restore paradise to our lives, to wipe the tears from our eyes… Egypt’s new Erdoğan is Khairat al-Shater,” the Anatolia news agency quoted a recent election chant during a rally for the Brotherhood’s presidential hopeful, Shater.
The Brotherhood, which has emerged as the most influential political force in post-revolution Egypt, has sought to market itself as a “moderate” Islamist party along the lines of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party).
Shater, a self-made multimillionaire and chief Brotherhood financier, has cast the upcoming elections as a battle between democracy-minded Islam and the “new Mubarak” candidacy of the military-backed Omar Suleiman, the former spy chief of deposed dictator Hosni Mubarak.
The Turkish prime minister’s defiant stance on Israel and his calls for solidarity with Arab Spring democracy movements have earned him widespread admiration in Egypt and other Middle Eastern states. In October 2011 a Brookings Institution report that polled over 3,000 experts and policymakers across the Middle East suggested that Erdoğan has emerged as the “most admired leader” in the region.