Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan decided to turn the Byzantine-era Hagia Sophia back into a mosque. This step will lead to a setback to the country’s secular values, which are under the charge of Islamists.
The Ottoman Muslims and Eastern Orthodox Christians are in the center of conflict for over centuries for this sixth-century Byzantine monument. Initially, Byzantine Emperor Justinian I built it as a cathedral, which was then converted into a mosque by the Ottomans after Mehmed the Conqueror captured the city in the year 1453.
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, considered to be the founding father of modern Turkey, closed the gates to this Mosque in 1930. Thinking it was a part of his secularism drive. The Mosque was then reopened after five years.
Since then, this has been one of the most famous monuments to be visited in Turkey. This also signifies the co-existence of the Christian-Muslim Community.
The demand to convert this Monumental museum back to being a mosque has gained friction with support from the Turkish President and his party in recent years.
On Friday, The highest administrative court canceled Hagia Sophia’s museum’s status. Hence President Recep signed a command transferring this management to the Directorate of Religious Affairs. Reopening Hagia Sophia as a Mosque is now just a matter of time and some formalities.
Mr. Erdoğan has tightened his grip over the power of religion into making it the center of his governance. He even went ahead and rewrote the Constitution, turning Turkey into an all-power exclusively administrative rule. He launched a war against journalists and various critics as well.
With this decision over Hagia Sophia, the brand that their President put forth on Islamism is going to take a giant leap forward.
Hagia Sophia has always been associated with the ‘glory’ of the Ottoman Imperial Era by the Turkish Islamists. Symbolically ending Kemalist secularism, he appeals to those sentiments.
This move is a huge step considering the challenging times; the economy is a doom; the Virus hasn’t stopped spreading. The President is losing the grip over his popularity, especially when the AK party lost the elections in Istanbul and Ankara last year.
This decision to turn to reopen the Mosque might help him politically or not is a matter of further discussion. This could lead the Turkish society into a fractured zone, which can worsen their international connections. It is not 1453 for Turkey.
While, on the other hand, The Israeli municipality in the city Safed has turned Al-Ahmar Mosque into a bar and events hall.
Al-Ahmar Mosque is one of the most historical Mosques in the Arab city. It was occupied by the Jewish gangs in 1948. This building was first a Jewish school later it became the center of Likud’s(right-wing political party in Israel) election campaigns and then into a clothing warehouse, which now is getting converted into a nightclub.
Khair Tabari, secretary of Safed and Tiberias Islamic endowment, has requested an evacuation of the Mosque while returning it to the funding from the Nazareth court.
He further went ahead and told that the Mosque is now open to be used for anything and everything except prayers by Muslims.