Istanbul, the 'Islamic' hour of Hagia Sophia
by Marian Demir

Since yesterday, pro-Erdogan Turkish media are reporting that the Council of State has already "unanimously" decided to transform the Christian basilica into a mosque. But the legal reasons for the "right of the sword" are not "Islamic". Pro-Kurdish deputy: "Hagia Sophia should serve the creed of those who built it."


Istanbul (AsiaNews) - The Turkish Council of State is due to announce its decision to transform the Hagia Sophia into a mosque today. Already yesterday the propaganda machine moved to prepare the terrain for the announcement desired (and threatened) many times by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as a great "Islamic" victory.

According to Abülkadir Selvi, a journalist close to the government, the Council of State has already made the decision "unanimously", but is waiting today for the drafting of the act and for the signature. Selvi today defines "a historic day in the struggle for Hagia Sophia".

He also hastened to clarify that the "Islamic" transformation of the Christian basilica is not Erdogan's "electoral investment", given that the presidential elections will only be held in 2023, "in three years".

International public opinion, on the other hand, thinks that this decision has to do with Erdogan's desire to win a new election, having transformed the country into a presidential republic, and after losing Ankara and Istanbul in the 2018 administrative elections.

Another journalist, Mehmet Ardıç, considered a secret advisor to Erdogan, also released a tweet yesterday stating that "unanimously, the Council of State canceled the 27 November 1934 decision on Hagia Sophia".

The date refers to the decision of the leader Atatürk to transform the basilica that had been used as a mosque under the Ottoman Empire into a museum.

Abülkadir Selvi also explained that the Council of State wants to explain "the legal basis" for this transformation. These legal bases rest on the "right of the sword", ie the power of victors to do what they want.

Yet it is precisely this right that is being criticized as "non-Islamic". The Democratic People's Party (pro-Kurdish), HDP MP Hüda Kaya  says said that "the right of the sword for Saint Sophia (following the conquest of Constantinople by Muslims) is a tradition that emerged after the prophet Muhammad and the decisions on Hagia Sophia are not up to the government ”.

According to Hüda Kaya, "Hagia Sophia should serve the creed of those who built it."

"Like Hagia Sophia - he said - there are hundreds of buildings under occupation, which should belong to the believers who built it. It is not enough to call it a mosque. It is necessary to make it a house of God. Hagia Sophia has a special status. It should serve the creed of those who built it."

Built at the time of Emperor Justinian in 537, at the fall of Constantinople (29 May 1453) it was used as a mosque and then, with the dissolution of the Ottoman empire in 1935, as a museum. This year, to commemorate the fall of Constantinople Erdogan wanted passages from the Koran to be recited in Hagia Sophia.

The European Union and especially by the ecumenical patriarch Bartholomew I, have both urged the government to rethink this move, fearing it will fan conflict between Christians and Muslims in the world.

The inauguration of the basilica as a mosque should take place on July 15, the fourth anniversary of the failed coup against Erdogan.

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