08/07/2020, 08.50
TURKEY - ISLAM
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Muezzin dies of heart attack in Hagia Sophia

Osman Aslan was a volunteer, informing Muslims about anti-coronavirus measures in the mosque. He died on August 2 from an apparent heart attack but the authorities kept the news under the wrap for days. The Istanbul Governor’s Office asks for “mercy from God”.

 

Istanbul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Osman Aslan, the muezzin in charge of coronavirus safety at Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya) since it reopened as a mosque, died suddenly inside the building from an apparent heart attack on Sunday, tweeted the Istanbul Governor’s Office.

“We wish mercy from God to the family and relatives of Uhud Mosque, Muezzin-Kayyum, who passed away during the voluntary guidance service in Hagia Sophia-i Kebir Mosque, due to a heart attack,” the tweet read.

His death came a few days after Hagia Sophia was reconverted into a mosque in accordance with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s will.

Aslan served as a volunteer in Hagia Sophia from the first day of its reconversion into a mosque, providing Muslims with information about anti-coronavirus measures in the building. 

According to the initial reports, the muezzin died on 2 August but the authorities kept the news secret for days. for years, he had been one of the most ardent supporters of Hagia Sophia’s reconversion into a mosque.

Originally a basilica, the building was turned into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453. In 1934, Kemal Atatürk, the founder and first president of modern Turkey, ordered that it be turned into a museum.

Meanwhile in Athens (Greece), the local Muslim community, about 300,000-strong, mostly immigrants who arrived in the past 20 years, fear that Hagia Sophia’s reconversion might further delay the opening of the city’s first mosque. Athens is the only European capital without an Islamic place of worship.

“I think that after this incident, it might be even more difficult to open the official mosque that we have waited for ten years,” said Imam Atta-ul Naseer,

The project dates back to 2007, but was stalled several times in the face of opposition from the Greek Orthodox Church and Greek nationalist groups. At present, Muslim worshippers have to pray in private homes, cellars or garages. 

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