3 September, 2014 AsiaNews.it Twitter AsiaNews.it Facebook            

Help AsiaNews | About us | P.I.M.E. | | RssNewsletter | Mobile





mediazioni e arbitrati, risoluzione alternativa delle controversie e servizi di mediazione e arbitrato
e-mail this to a friend printable version


» 11/11/2011
TURKEY
Erdogan's religious acrobatics: Nicaea council church back to being a mosque
by NAT da Polis
The church of Aghia Sophia in Nicaea (Izmit), in which the 787 Council was held, was used as a museum. A controversial decision by the Directorate General of Religious Affairs transforms it into a Muslim place of worship. Erdogan' contents Islamic sectors of society.

Istanbul (AsiaNews) - The specter of Aghia Sophia continues to plague the Islamic world of Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey. Not the most famous symbol of the church of Constantinople, but another church, Aghia Sophia in Nicaea (now Izmit), which predates the Constantinople church, having been built in the fourth century. It passed into history in 787 AD, when it was the last church to host a united Christendom drawn to discuss the iconoclastic question, in a truly ecumenical synod, before the fatal schism of 1024.

This Christian church, the Aghia Sophia in Nicaea (Izmit), was transformed into a mosque in 1331 by Orhan Gazi who led the Ottomans and which was later made a museum in 1920, has returned once again to being a mosque.

All that was needed was a directive from the Directorate General for Religious Affairs led by Mehmet Gormez, appointed by Erdogan instead of Ali Bardakoglu, the man behind the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Turkey, since retired. The move has elicited several considerations in Turkey and abroad in a period in which much importance and emphasis is placed on religious freedom. It is also noted that this decision by the Directorate for Religious Affairs, made in accordance with the Directorate General of Religious Foundations, to which the church of Aghia Sophia in Izmit belongs, is in complete contrast with the decisions of the Ministry of Culture in Ankara, which granted permission for religious celebrations in Christian monuments that have since been transformed into museums.

The President of the Republic of Germany, Christian Wulf, in his recent visit to Turkey, made the request for permission for a mass to be celebrated at the Church of St. Paul in Tarsus, a request that was granted by the Turkish authorities . The same Patriarch Bartholomew I, 26 December 2000 celebrated a liturgy in the church of Aghia Sophia in Izmit on the anniversary of the second millennium of the birth of our Lord, as the church of Aghia Sophia in Izmit was counted, according to the Directive of the Ministry of Culture in Ankara, among those Christians monuments turned into museums.

Erdogan's decision is puzzling, but also brings to light lurking divisions within Turkish society. In recent times, especially after the 2007 elections, Erdogan's policy has been characterized by an opening towards non-Muslim religious minorities,. Thanks to these re-openings, religious communities have begun to breathe once again. In is enough to mention the recent decree that provides for the restitution of property illegally confiscated in the past, from the religious foundations, and the grant of permission to celebrate religious functions in Christian monuments that have since become museums. The most symbolic outcome was the celebration of the Mass officiated by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in 2010 in the historic Monastery of Our Lady of Sumela on the Black Sea, the first after 80 years.

These initiatives by Erdogan have never been welcomed by his Islamic-nationalist followers, who are not only present in Bahceli’s nationalist MHP party (which achieved about 14% in the last election), but they are also lurking in the ruling AKP party, under the wing of the Vice President Bulent Arinc, perhaps the most prominent politician in the Islamic conformist current within the ruling party. Arinc said during the inauguration the day before yesterday: "With this act we have regained the favor of our ancestors. The church of Aghia Sophia in Izmit is the result of conquest and as such, as it was used then, is right. A church can be transformed into a mosque. Both are places of prayer to God”. Bulent Arinc concluded, "How many mosques have been transformed into our churches?".

There have however, been sstrong negative reactions within the Turkish intellectual world among which that of Professor. Selcuk Mulayim of Marmara University, who said that the church of Aghia Sophia in Izmit has played an important role in Christian history and as such should be considered as with the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople: a museum.

Istanbul's comment diplomatic circles mummer that Erdogan, making a symbolic and instrumental use of the name of Aghia Sofia, has tried to satisfy certain sectors of his party, and not only. Consenting to the transformation of the church of Aghia Sophia in Nicaea (Izmit) into a mosque, he has calculated that certain "targeted" concessions will lengthen his stay in power.


e-mail this to a friend printable version

See also
05/05/2014 TURKEY
Motion to transform Hagia Sophia into a mosque: Conquest of Constantinople a national holiday and the rise of Erdogan
by NaT da Polis
02/27/2014 TURKEY
Erdogan's mad idea for president: turning Hagia Sophia into a mosque
by NAT da Polis
08/30/2013 TURKEY
Persistent rumours suggest Hagia Sophia will be turned into a mosque
by NAT da Polis
04/07/2009 TURKEY – UNITED STATES
In Turkey Obama turns the page but does not dispel every doubt
by Geries Othman
08/17/2012 TURKEY
Bartholomew I: Do not transform Hagia Sophia in Trabzon into a mosque
by NAT da Polis

Editor's choices
IRAQ-ITALY
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul," the thanks of the Patriarch Louis Sako; the concerns of the Bishop of Kurdistan
by Bernardo CervelleraThe head of the Chaldean Church is grateful for the AsiaNews campaign and hopes that "this chain of solidarity will reach far and wide”. Helping refugees to remain in Iraq. But many want to flee abroad. The bishop of Amadiyah where thousands of displaced people have found haven in churches and homes: We also help the Arabs (Muslims), and Yazidis, for free and without looking at our confessional differences.
ITALY - IRAQ
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul" to respond directly to Iraq's emergencyAsiaNews is launching a fundraiser to support Christians targeted by the Islamic State, thus responding to a request by the Patriarch of Baghdad and Pope Francis's urgent appeal "to guarantee all necessary assistance - especially the most urgently needed aid - to the great multitude of people who have been driven from their homes, whose fate depends entirely on the solidarity of others." More than 100,000 people have been forced to flee their homes leaving everything behind and now have nothing to live on. To help them, five euros a day are enough. The funds raised will be sent to the Patriarchate of Baghdad, which will distribute them according to the needs of each family.
CHINA - VATICAN
Wenzhou bishop and priests slam government's campaign against crosses and churches in Zhejiang
by Eugenia ZhangFor Mgr Vincent Zhu Weifang, from the official Church, the campaign of destruction is increasing social instability. It is real persecution against the Christian faith. The bishop apologises for failing to intervene sooner. He was hoping that the campaign would end quickly. Catholics and Protestants suffer injuries as they attempt to defend their sacred buildings. For priests in Wenzhou, the campaign is unfair and touches buildings that have all the right papers. Such "stupid acts" by the government are undermining social harmony.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
Copyright © 2003 AsiaNews C.F. 00889190153 All rights reserved. Content on this site is made available for personal, non-commercial use only. You may not reproduce, republish, sell or otherwise distribute the content or any modified or altered versions of it without the express written permission of the editor. Photos on AsiaNews.it are largely taken from the internet and thus considered to be in the public domain. Anyone contrary to their publication need only contact the editorial office which will immediately proceed to remove the photos.