For the first time after 81 years, the Turkish government allowed Koran recitations inside the ultimate symbol of Orthodox Christianity, the Hafia Sophia in Istanbul. All thought the month of Ramazan form 6th June to July 7th, state Television & Radio corporation (TRT) will broadcast a live program with prayers and the program will be hosted at Hagia Sophia.
The program “Hagia Sophia – Time for Blessing” with Koran recitations and discussions on”brotherhood in Islam, justice, unity, solidarity and charity” went on air at 2:00 a.m. Monday morning and will be aired every day for 29 days.
Koran recitations in the symbol of Orthodox Christianity? Greeks went furious and describe the unpreparedness move as “unbelievable provocation” and “a shock” for the Orthodox Christians.
In a very diplomatic language, the Greek Foreign Ministry spoke of an “outdated and incomprehensible” move that shows “disrespect” towards historical religious sites. Conservative New Democracy said it is “lack of respect towards all Orthodox Christians worldwide.”
The Basilica of Hagia Sophia dedicated to “Holy Wisdom” was built in 537 AD and served as Orthodox cathedral and seat of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch until 1453 when the Byzantine Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks.
From 1204 until 1261, it was converted by the Fourth Crusaders to a Roman Catholic cathedral under the Latin Empire of Constantinople.
The building was an imperial mosque from 29 May 1453 until 1931. Under the founder of modern Turkey, secular Mustaf Kemal Ataturk, Hagia Sophia was turned into a museum on 1 February 1935.
Ever since the moderate muslim but very conservative Justice and Development Party (AKP) of now president Recept Tayyip Erdogan gained power in 2004, there have been several attempts to open the Hagia Sophia as a mosque. From time to time, small groups of fanatics would gather outside the building and recite the Koran.
However, just a couple of days ago, on the anniversary of the Fall of Constantinople on May 29, thousands of Muslim worshipers flocked to Hagia Sophia museum and demanded the right to pray there.
An imam led a prayer in front of the building and the crowd called for it to be restored as a Muslim place of worship.
“Let the chains break, open Hagia Sophia,” the crowd chanted
“In the name of thousands of our brothers we demand to be allowed to pray inside the Hagia Sophia mosque,” said Salih Turhan, the president of the Anatolia Youth Association which organized the demonstration.
Of course, everyone who has a knowledge of how Turkish politics and “crowd mobilization” operates knows very well that without government approval demonstration normally end in clouds of tear gas and heads cracked by police batons.
Did Erdogan allowed the usage of Hagia Sophia as a ‘mosque’ in order to take revenge for the German recognition of the Armenian genocide? Yes, he did. An AKP MP posted on Twitter that “as reaction to German recognition of Armenian genocide, Hagia Sophia should be open for prayers.”
Madem; ABD, PKK ve Paraleli sahiplendi. Almanya, soykırım yalanına sarıldı. Dostluk rafa kaldırıldı. Sıra bizde; Ayasofya ibadete açılmalı.The United States embraced the PKK and the Parallel [system]. Germany fell into genocide lie. Friendship stayed on the shelf . Our turn; Open HagiaSophia for worship.”