1000 people invited for prayer. At least 7 thousand policemen to guarantee security. Devlet Bahçeli, president of the MHP (Party of the nationalist movement, political arm of the Gray Wolf semi-terrorist movement) also present. The "reconquest" of Constantinople celebrated with special stamps and a video: "Ayasofya, You belong to us and we belong to you forever and ever".
Istanbul (AsiaNews) - President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be present at the first Friday prayer, which inaugurates the reuse of the Hagia Sophia as a mosque. He has compared himself to Fatih II, the "reconqueror" of Constantinople, in returning the building that was a Christian basilica for 916 years, then mosque for 481 years (from 1453 to 1934); then museum for 86 years to use as a mosque. Together with Erdogan, Devlet Bahçeli, president of the MHP (Party of the nationalist movement, political arm of the semi-terrorist movement of the Gray Wolves), will also be present at the prayer.
1000 people are invited to the Islamic gathering, and the prayer will take place with anti-coronavirus precautions. All guests were advised to bring surgical masks, their prayer mat, to stay spaced, to be patient.
The streets around the basilica have been checked and emptied for days with the deployment of about 7 thousand policemen.
Last year the basilica-museum was visited by around 3.7 million tourists. But after the decision of the Council of State - which abolished the 1934 law on the use as a museum of Hagia Sophia - and Erdogan's one to make it become a mosque again, the president himself thinks of a crowning achievement of his neo-Ottoman dream, to manifest Turkey as a model of the Islamic world.
For the occasion, the Turkish Post Office issued two special stamps. On the first, there is represented Hagia Sophia with the Istanbul skyline, commemorating the conquest of the city by the Ottoman Empire. The other stamp depicts birds flying above Hagia Sofia, with images that represent the freedom and "liberation" of the sacred building.
On his Twitter account, Erdogan shared a video with images of Hagia Sofia, accompanied by the music and words of a song entitled "Ayasofya", composed by Yücel Arzen and interpreted in different languages in the Islamic world. The words of the song enhance the "reconquest": "Saint Sophia - it is said - may the winds of freedom blow on your dome. You belong to us and we have belonged to you forever and ever. "
Pope Francis, Patriarch Bartholomew, the Russian Orthodox Synod, the World Council of Churches, UNESCO and several governments - including Islamic ones, such as the Emirates – have expressed their pain and their opposition to the use of the basilica for a single community religious, contravening the universal value of the building.