05/05/2014, 00.00
TURKEY
Send to a friend

Motion to transform Hagia Sophia into a mosque: Conquest of Constantinople a national holiday and the rise of Erdogan

by NaT da Polis
The ruling AKP party’s infamous project to regain Turkish Muslims votes and presidency for Erdogan. The Ecumenical Patriarchate refuses to "barter" for opening of Halki Theological School. West only concerned with gas pipelines; in Turkey no one dares to voice any criticism.

Istanbul ( AsiaNews) - A little-known independent deputy from the Burdur district, Hami Yildirim, has filed a motion in the Turkish parliament to transform the Istanbul Hagia Sophia museum into a mosque. The Hagia Sophia is known to all as an architectural masterpiece, a symbol of united Christendom, built by Emperor Justinian in 537 AD.

The news was broken by Haber Turk and so far has not been denied. On the contrary, there are other worrying signs: a few days ago, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed his desire to celebrate an Islamic function in Santa Sofia on 29 May, the day that commemorates the conquest of Constantinople by Mehmet II.

The motion of the unknown Yildirim will have to go through a series of stages: approval in parliament, where Erdogan's party, the AKP, holds the majority (325 seats out of 550); publication in the Official Gazette; entry into force following the ratification of the Premier.

It is interesting to note that the resolution is being proposed exactly 80 years after Kemal Ataturk's decision in 1934 that turned the Hagia Sophia into a museum: almost a symbol of change in Turkey, from a secular country to Muslim country. And in fact, the reasons expressed in the motion are historical in nature and centered on the conquest of Constantinople by the Conqueror Mohammed II, who - as Yildirim states in his motion - was the first to pray according to Islamic rituals, after the conquest of the city, May 29, 1453.

This anniversary is becoming increasingly popular in Turkey, celebrated as a success, even though the newspaper Sabah notes that the event recalls, "that we are strangers in this land".

According to sources in Istanbul Muslim leaders and personalities from around the world will be invited to celebrations for the transformation of the church into a mosque. According to the same sources, the Hagia Sophia will have a dual role of mosque (for the prayer of nazim and Kurban Bayram and seker) and museum. In short, like the Blue Mosque in Istanbul.

The news, of course, is quite worrying.  Moreover it is indicative of the general climate and current political situation that exists in Turkey, which is also by no means reassuring. Erdogan 's arrogance seems to know no limits. Having averted damage in the last elections - dogged by the scandals of widespread corruption which erupted on December 17 last and involved families of AKP members and that of the Prime Minister - he has now set his sights on the presidency, ahead of the August elections.

These elections will be by direct universal suffrage. However, Erdogan does not seem to enough votes. Going on the figures from the last vote, he is short by 5% . This is why he finds himself having to appeal to the lowest levels of Turkish society who have always identified being Turkish with Islam.

Another important fact that strikes the observer is the following: in the history of Turkish political affairs, it is no coincidence that every time an important motion is tabled, it is always made ​​by a little-known and independent deputy, to be able to probe the possible internal and external reactions to the motion presented.

The "external reactions", are those of the western world in general and the "Christian" world in particular, who are familiar with the geopolitical and strategic importance of Turkey, a veritable hub of gas pipelines from various sources , which have become even more important today in attempts to limit Russian dominance.

To help swallow the bitter pill of the Hagia Sophia's transformation into a mosque, the AKP government is preparing to offer the reopening of the Halki Theological School unjustly closed in 1971 by the Turkish government, a highly acclaimed "trade" by Western politicians.

However, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has always opposed this option. Indeed, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has always opposed the transformation of Hagia Sophia into a mosque.

Regarding internal reactions, any comment is now banned in Turkey. In this part of the world silence is a must.

 

Send to a friend
Printable version
CLOSE X
See also
Surah of the Conquest in Hagia Sophia renews Turkish-Greek row
03/06/2020 17:06
Istanbul’s Kariye Camii Museum (monastery of Christ the Saviour in Chora) to become a mosque
21/08/2020 13:37
Bartholomew: turning Hagia Sophia into a mosque would cause a rift between Christians and Islam
01/07/2020 14:06
Turkey’s Council of State rules that Hagia Sophia is a mosque
10/07/2020 16:52
In Turkey Obama turns the page but does not dispel every doubt
07/04/2009