While unrest in Turkey continues to capture attention, more subtle and more telling events concerning the Islamification of Turkey — and not just at the hands of Prime Minister Erdogan but majorities of Turks — are quietly transpiring. These include the fact that Turkey’s Hagia Sophia museum is on its way to becoming a mosque.
Why does the fate of an old building matter?
Because Hagia Sophia — Greek for “Holy Wisdom” — was for some thousand years Christianity’s greatest cathedral. Built in 537 A.D. in Constantinople, the heart of the Christian empire, it was also a stalwart symbol of defiance against an ever encroaching Islam from the east.
After parrying centuries of jihadi thrusts, Constantinople was finally sacked by Ottoman Turks in 1453. Its crosses desecrated and icons defaced, Hagia Sophia — as well as thousands of other churches — was immediately converted into a mosque, the tall minarets of Islam surrounding it in triumph
The Hagia Sophia Museum, which is one of the most popular tourist sites in Istanbul, was built as a Greek Orthodox Christian basilica in 527. It was converted to an imperial mosque when the Ottomans conquered Istanbul in 1453. Following renovations in 1931-35, it was reopened as a museum under the rule of the newly established secular Republic of Turkey. Ever since 1931, the yearnings of the Turkish conservatives to reopen the site as a mosque has never ceased. In the last decade, with tacit government approval, Islamist groups as well as ultranationalists have periodically carried Hagia Sophia to the headlines. They have organized rallies calling upon the government during Friday sermons and initiating petitions to focus the public attention on the matter.
Finally on April 11, 2015, a day before Greek Orthodox Easter Sunday, which coincided with the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, for the first time in 85 years there was a Quran recitation inside Hagia Sophia. In November 2015, a young visitor from Sanliurfa province, Fatih Dortbudak, performed salat (prayer) inside the museum.
The President will pray together with members of his party and the religious leaders in Istanbul. The event falls two days before the referendum, to garner the Muslim vote. Transformation of the ancient Christian basilica into a museum rejected. Erdogan: Kemalism is dead.
Istanbul (AsiaNews) – The Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan is preparing to go to pray next Friday April 14 in Saint Sophia in Constantinople, the church declared a museum by the father of Republican Turkey Kemal Ataturk in 1934.