Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been Prime Minister of Turkey since 2003. He grew up in Istanbul, selling lemonade and sesame buns on the street as a child, and eventually became mayor of the city. He was a semi-professional soccer player in his youth and has been a committed Muslim all his life. Why is he part of our series on conversions that would change history? Because of the role of Turkey in the modern world and his role in that rising country.
The modern nation of Turkey was founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1923 as a secular state. Women were not required to wear Islamic clothing; men often wore Western suits. The government functioned as a parliamentary democracy where clerics have no official office. (By contrast, as we saw on Tuesday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Khamenei is the de-facto leader of that nation.)