To what extent does the Islamic past still affect the economies and institutions in North African and Middle Eastern countries? Timur Kuran, who has scientifically analysed the region’s past and present, says “a great deal. And one should be attentive to the fact that in the region, democracy is an absolute novelty while civil society remains weak.” Kuran is a scholar who has studied the “divergence” between the economies of Western Europe and the Middle East. A professor at Duke University in North Carolina, a New Yorker by birth and a Turkish-American, he is the author of The Long Divergence: How Islamic Law Held Back the Middle East (Princeton University Press, 2011). His works weave economics with political science, legal studies, and historical studies. He is considered a great authority in the field of comparative global economics and is gaining attention in .in Arab countries, where his works are now appearing in translation. The historical backdrop of the “divergence” comes to mind when one now Turkey’s prime minister attack the excessive use of credit cards. One wonders whether profound difference exist even in Turkey, where the lengthy domination of Kemalist secular culture ignored the Islamic aversion towards interest.