6 March, 2015 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


» 08/30/2013
TURKEY
Persistent rumours suggest Hagia Sophia will be turned into a mosque
by NAT da Polis
Two other churches in Nicaea and Trebizond that served as museums have already been converted into mosques. With Hagia Sophia in Constantinople as the symbol of Ottoman conquest, Erdogan's neo-Ottoman plans need such a symbol to cover up Turkey's economic and social crises. For Bartholomew I, Hagia Sophia could only reopen to worship as a Christian church.

Istanbul (AsiaNews) - Increasingly, rumours are circulating about the future transformation of the Cathedral of Saint Sophia into a mosque. This is worrisome because two other temples, also dedicated to Saint Sophia, were recently transformed from museums into mosques. The two churches in question are Hagia Sophia in Nicaea (Iznik), where the first ecumenical council was held, and Hagia Sophia in Trebizond (Trabzon).

For the record, with the fall of Constantinople (1453), all of the city's churches were converted into mosques, but with the advent of the Turkish Republic in 1923, the most important monuments were turned into museums.

Skylife, the free magazine handed out on the planes of Turkish Airlines, Turkey's national carrier, gives further credence to the rumours about the Hagia Sophia mosque.

As an important platform to showcase the AKP government's success to the world, the magazine recently published a long article in English and Turkish to get people accustomed to an already in its planning phase.

On the cover, the aim of this idea is clearly spelled out, with an image of the Cathedral of Saint Sophia described as the 'Mosque of the Sultans'.

The article emphasises the transformation of the cathedral into a mosque (in 1453) and its subsequent history. The long history of the church before the fall of Constantinople is largely ignored.

By carefully reading the article, one gets the idea that the main cathedral of Orthodox Christianity is the highest symbol of Constantinople's conquest by the Ottomans and a kind of reference point for the sultans. The article seeks to show that Sophia reached its peak, glory and splendour only after the conquest of Constantinople in 1453.

In the same article, Prof Semavi Eyice notes that Hagia Sophia's survival was due to Sinan, a 16th century Christian architect who converted to Islam under the Ottomans' janissary policy.

For his part, Prof Ahmet Akgunduz points out that Sophia is the living memory of Mehmet the Conqueror, and therefore must be restored as soon as possible to "its" spirituality, that of a mosque.

From a certain point of view, these rumours and views are not surprising, given how things have evolved in Turkey under the AKP party and Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

It is generally agreed that an attempt is being made to polarise Turkish society, extolling the Ottoman past and traditions, to cover up the crisis that is beginning to be felt in this part of the world, characterised by the Turkish lira's fall vis-à-vis the euro and the dollar, the Syria crisis, and Erdogan's interventionist policy after the Gezi Park standoff ahead of next year's election.

Speaking to Turkish newspaper Milliyet on the possible transformation of Hagia Sophia into a mosque, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I said that if Saint Sophia could reopen as a place of worship, it should be as a Christian church; otherwise it should remain a museum.


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
11/11/2011 TURKEY
Erdogan's religious acrobatics: Nicaea council church back to being 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
01/07/2015 TURKEY
Female suicide bomber blows herself up in a police station near the Blue Mosque

Editor's choices
EGYPT - ISLAM
What Tayeb and Sisi said is big step towards a revolution in Islam
by Samir Khalil SamirThe grand imam of Al-Azhar slammed literalist interpretations of the Qur'an and the Sunnah, as fundamentalists and Islamic terrorists do. He supports the urgent need for Islam's reform, especially in terms of teaching lay people and clerics. He also calls for an end to mutual excommunication (takfir) between Sunnis and Shias. Egyptian President al-Sisi chose to fight the Islamic state group after it beheaded 21 Coptic Christians, whom he called "Egyptian citizens" with full rights.
SAUDI ARABIA - ISLAM
For head of Al-Azhar, religious education reform is needed to stop Islamic extremismFor Ahmed al-Tayeb, it is urgent to come up with new educational programmes to avoid "corrupt interpretations" of the Qur'an and Sunnah. Islamic terrorism undermines the unity of the Muslim world. He blames Mideast tensions on a "new global colonialism allied to world Zionism". a speech by the Saudi king is read at the conference.
HONG KONG - CHINA - VATICAN
It looks like someone is trying to shout us down
by Card. Joseph Zen Ze-kiunThe widespread optimism concerning the dialogue between the Holy See and China is largely groundless. Some Chinese bishops unable to speak freely are asked "leading" questions. The key issues remain unresolved, namely episcopal appointments and the fate of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. Benedict XVI's Letter to Chinese Catholics, also cited by Pope Francis, provides guidelines. No agreement is better than a bad agreement. What happened to Msgr. Cosma Shi Enxiang and Msgr. James Su Zhimin? Hong Kong's bishop emeritus, champion of religious freedom in China, delivers a vibrant reflection.

Dossier

by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
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.