To deal with an intimidating

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“There would be no need for a call for Shari’a,” Gulden Sonmez, an Istanbul human rights lawyer said, “if you could practice religion freely.” Born into a working-class family on Turkey’s Black Sea coast, moved at age 13 to Istanbul, where he joined the youth wing of a party founded by Necmettin Erbakan, architect of Turkey’s political Islamic movement.

Erbakan, who later briefly became Prime Minister, saw in the tall young soccer fanatic an ambitious orator of considerable charm.

to deal with an intimidating-77

Though Presidents had been selected by Parliament and held little real power in the past, Erdogan was elected directly by the people and quickly showed signs that he intended to play a larger role than past Presidents had.

Elected mayor of Istanbul in 1994, is more familiar, like a brother.” Aslihan Dede, 21, a student journalist wearing a Muslim head scarf in Istanbul said last week, “He is one of us.” He is also, says Cakir, a pragmatist: “He is Muslim, but he is looking for a new deal.” sent two daughters to Indiana University in part to evade Turkey’s prohibition against wearing Muslim head scarves in public universities. “He could have sent them to Tehran,” notes a Western diplomat.

“That says a lot.” And by the next year, he had in fact become Prime Minister: the rule that kept him from power had been changed.

He personally told TIME that he was “still determined” for Turkey to join the E.

U., and the magazine’s Bobby Ghosh noted that Erdogan couldn’t “help smiling at the irony that his country, once described as ‘the sick man of Europe,’ is now economically ascendant, while many members of the club that won’t admit him are all but bankrupt.” Later that year, polls found that, in the wake of the Arab Spring, he was seen as having led his country to “having played the most constructive role in Arab events.” In 2013, he helped organize significant diplomatic victories in Turkey’s relationships with Israel and with Kurdish rebels.

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