In 17th- and 18th-century Europe, the ‘exoticism’ of the Ottoman Empire was used as a mirror to project Europeans’ own shortcomings and insecurities. In France, one spoke of “Turqueries”, as in Molière’s play “Le bourgeois gentilhomme”.

Today, it is the Arab world that tends to use Turkey the way that Europe did in the past. This time, however, it is modernity, not exoticism, that is the source of fascination. But, because of its secular tradition (now being challenged by the current regime), its non-Arab identity, its behaviour towards its Kurdish minority, and the ambivalence of the Ottoman legacy, Turkey is as much a counter-model as a model. It is a mirror in which the Arab world projects its fears, as well as its hopes.

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