07/22/2020, 09.16
TURKEY
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Kemalist theologians: Political exploitation of Hagia Sophia ‘irreparable error' and anti-Islamic

by Marian Demir

Writers Nazif Ay, Mehmet Ali Öz and Yusuf Dülger say the transformation of the Christian monument into a mosque "will offend non-Muslims and feed Islamophobia and hatred of Islam." Preparations are underway for the Islamic prayer on 24 July. The figures of Mary Theotokos and the Archangel Gabriel will be covered with screens. Fears about the use of electronic lasers that could damage the colors of the wall mosaics. A document drafted for UNESCO to guarantee the integrity of the sacred building transformed into a mosque.

Istanbul (AsiaNews) – The exploitation of the Hagia Sophia as a "political tool" is an "irreparable error", which "destroys the message of reconciliation and justice of Islam, the meaning of which is "peace”, writes a group of theological intellectuals.

The group call themselves "Kemalist theologians" reflecting the vision of the father of Turkey Kemal Ataturk, who transformed the Christian basilica - used as a mosque since 1453 - into a museum.

In an article published yesterday in "Birgun", the "Kemalist theologians" Nazif Ay, Mehmet Ali Öz and Yusuf Dülger criticize Recep Tayyip Erdogan's decision to reuse the Byzantine jewel as a mosque starting from 24 July.

They stress that "Hagia Sophia cannot be used as a political tool" and opening it to the worship of one religion "is a serious and irreparable error ... Turning Hagia Sophia into a mosque while ignoring its universal values ​​is a decision that destroys the message of reconciliation and of justice of Islam, the meaning of which in the dictionary is 'peace'”.

The three writers note “this temple was built by Orthodox Christian religious people. The attempt to make it property of Islam with an order and a fait accompli will offend non-Muslims and feed Islamophobia and hatred for Islam."

Meanwhile, preparations for the July 24 prayer are going on inside the basilica, to which at least 500 people are invited. Diyanet, the national religious authority, said that the Christian icons present in the building will be hidden by a screen or darkened with a system of lights "during times of prayer".

President Erdogan's spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, explained that the mosaics of Mary Theotokos (Mother of God) and the Archangel Gabriel, which are positioned in the direction of Qiblah (which marks the direction of Mecca, towards which we look at prayer) will be covered by screens, operated one minute before the Islamic prayer.

Art historians are concerned about the use of electronic lasers that should be used to illuminate or darken the Christian figures of the basilica's wall mosaics. The constant changes of light could ruin the colors of the mosaics. But the Turkish government is preparing a document to explain that transforming Hagia Sophia into a mosque will not spoil the building. This document will be presented to UNESCO, which had designated the monument as a World Heritage Site and which expressed "displeasure" and "perplexity" over the Islamic use of the Christian basilica.Istanbul (AsiaNews) – The exploitation of the Hagia Sophia as a "political tool" is an "irreparable error", which "destroys the message of reconciliation and justice of Islam, the meaning of which is "peace”, writes a group of theological intellectuals.

The group call themselves "Kemalist theologians" reflecting the vision of the father of Turkey Kemal Ataturk, who transformed the Christian basilica - used as a mosque since 1453 - into a museum.

In an article published yesterday in "Birgun", the "Kemalist theologians" Nazif Ay, Mehmet Ali Öz and Yusuf Dülger criticize Recep Tayyip Erdogan's decision to reuse the Byzantine jewel as a mosque starting from 24 July.

They stress that "Hagia Sophia cannot be used as a political tool" and opening it to the worship of one religion "is a serious and irreparable error ... Turning Hagia Sophia into a mosque while ignoring its universal values ​​is a decision that destroys the message of reconciliation and of justice of Islam, the meaning of which in the dictionary is 'peace'”.

The three writers note “this temple was built by Orthodox Christian religious people. The attempt to make it property of Islam with an order and a fait accompli will offend non-Muslims and feed Islamophobia and hatred for Islam."

Meanwhile, preparations for the July 24 prayer are going on inside the basilica, to which at least 500 people are invited. Diyanet, the national religious authority, said that the Christian icons present in the building will be hidden by a screen or darkened with a system of lights "during times of prayer".

President Erdogan's spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, explained that the mosaics of Mary Theotokos (Mother of God) and the Archangel Gabriel, which are positioned in the direction of Qiblah (which marks the direction of Mecca, towards which we look at prayer) will be covered by screens, operated one minute before the Islamic prayer.

Art historians are concerned about the use of electronic lasers that should be used to illuminate or darken the Christian figures of the basilica's wall mosaics. The constant changes of light could ruin the colors of the mosaics. But the Turkish government is preparing a document to explain that transforming Hagia Sophia into a mosque will not spoil the building. This document will be presented to UNESCO, which had designated the monument as a World Heritage Site and which expressed "displeasure" and "perplexity" over the Islamic use of the Christian basilica.

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