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Erdogan insists in converting Hagia Sophia into a mosque

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan insists to convert Hagia Sophia into a mosque and has asked his aides to conduct a comprehensive study on how to do this.

According to Turkish daily Hurriyet, during a top party meeting earlier this week, Erdogan noted that Hagia Sophia was reopened as a museum in 1935 after a cabinet decision, and said that it should be up to the nation itself to reverse that decision. The report said that Erdogan wants to maintain Hagia Sophia as a tourist attraction like the neighboring Blue Mosque, but open it for Islamic prayers.

One senior ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) official disputed the report and said that Erdogan had not ordered the study.

“We were discussing a similar court case before the Council of State that has opened the way for Islamic prayers in Chora Church,” the official said. “There were only expressions of wishes.”

Last year, the Council of State ruled that the Chora Church building in Istanbul was endowed as a mosque under special legal circumstances during the Ottoman Empire, and that it was the state’s responsibility to preserve its intended form as a mosque.

Hagia Sophia was also a foundation property under Mehmet II, the conqueror of Istanbul, notes middleasteye.

Erdogan has been taking several steps to convert the Hagia Sophia into a mosque since last year, when he declared his intention to change its current form during an election rally.

Last week, Turkish government celebrated the 567th anniversary of the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul with an Islamic prayer at the former mosque.

“The recitation of Quran’s Al Fath surah at the Hagia Sophia has been very popular among the voters across the policial parties,” said Abdulkadir Selvi, a columnist with good sources within the government.

Hagia Sophia, a Unesco world heritage site, was originally built as a Greek Orthodox church. It was converted into a mosque after the conquest of Istanbul by Mehmet the Conquerer in 1453, celebrated on 29 May every year.

In 1935, Hagia was converted into a museum by the founder of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, as part of his secularist reforms.

Religious conservatives have long called for the conversion of the building back into a mosque, a move  Erdogan has increasingly hinted at in recent years.

Greek officials have in the past accused the Turkish president of using Hagia Sophia as an electoral ploy to lure voters to his party.

The Greek Orthodox church traces its history to the Byzantine empire and its Patriarch is still based in Istanbul, which was formerly known as Constantinople.

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7 comments

  1. Speechless
    It was built as a cathedral in Byzantium as the head of the Greek orthodix religion.
    Turkey did not even exist then.
    It was stolen as were the lands of Greece/Byzantium st least tespect the rradon why it was built as a Christian chutch not a Mosque.

  2. Typical of the turkish dictator erdogan he is the modern version of adolf hitler he must be stopped before we have another war in europe be aware greeks this man is a meglamaniac and will stop at nothing to cause discourse in your country as avisitor to grease 55 times i want your country to wake up to the thrat on your doorstep

    • Unfortunately Greece is run by crooks thieves and sellouts Stuart I’ll be very surprised if Greece alone or in coordination with our so called hypocritical allies or so called orthodox brothers do anything constructive if they start attacking Greece

      • Fortunately bigots like Stavros form only a small minority of the Greek population and Greek thinking.

  3. Islam is a religion that relies heavily on fear, compulsory repetitive rituals, dress and behaviour to keep adherents in line. Brainwashed. It is more like a cult. Apostasy = death. This is because the fundamental message is weak.

    Christianity has almost no absolute rules, few compulsory rituals and yet has easily outperformed Islam over centuries. The message is strong, so no elaborate rules or impositions are required to keep the faith.

    Islam is a religion of fear and hate. Hate the Infidel, take their property – like the Hagia Sophia, as it is ‘an affront’ to allow it to continue to be a museum. Islam is a religion of pride, Christianity is a religion of humility. Christianity is a religion of love.

  4. Well Mr Cavusoglu, how about that in the name of ‘internal affairs‘ Israel converts the Dome on the Rock or Al Aqsa mosque into a synagogue?