Erdogan's Moment

How Turkey's Prime Minister--a moderate Islamist and steadfast advocate of secular democracy — became one of the world's most influential leaders

Marco Grobb for TIME

Portrait of Prime Minister Erdogan

Red carpets and honor guards are for garden-variety visiting politicians and monarchs: for Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Cairo put on the kind of reception usually reserved for rock stars. Turkey's Prime Minister was greeted at the airport by thousands of cheering fans, many holding aloft posters of their hero. Fusillades of flashbulbs turned night into day. Journalists thrust microphones into his face, but he was drowned out by the chanting throngs. "Erdogan! Erdogan! A real Muslim and not a coward," went one incantation. Another: "Turkey and Egypt are a single fist."

Totalitarian regimes routinely orchestrate massive, faux-spontaneous welcomes for visiting dignitaries, but...

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