Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s decree of the reconversion of Istanbul’s iconic Hagia Sophia church building into a mosque has met with sharp criticisms from world leaders.
However, as is said on this side of the pond, talk is cheap, and Erdogan rests his case on the altar of sovereignty, and in his book, no one can do a damn thing about it.
Of course, this move is no different from Israel taking full control of Jerusalem as its eternal capital, or claiming the Golan Heights as its own, regardless of the empty noise of world leaders.
The former Church of Hagia Sophia (Church of Holy Wisdom) is a historic house of worship, located in Istanbul.
It had served as a Greek Orthodox Christian patriarchal cathedral, a Roman Catholic cathedral, an Ottoman mosque, and a secular museum until a few days ago when it was reclassified as a mosque — an act favored by Erdogan’s supporters.
During the reign of Justinian, the church was built in AD 537 and remained the world’s largest cathedral for nearly a thousand years, until Seville Cathedral was completed in 1520.
It is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture and is said to have “changed the history of architecture.”
It served as a Christian cathedral until the Ottoman Empire conquered Constantinople in 1453, at which time it was converted to a mosque.
However, in 1935, it was secularized and made into a museum. But not so anymore as its status as a museum was revoked recently to now serve again as a mosque.
The building’s history is as intriguing as the claims made for its usage over the years.
The 1,500-year-old monument is revered by Christians and Muslims alike.
Today, Muslim claims for its usage as a mosque must be viewed within the context of the spoils of wars.
The fact is monuments and buildings are now gaining top of the mind awareness, and Erdogan is playing his hand in a rather smart and strategic way — it’s called appealing to your base.
However, Vladimir Dzhabarov, deputy head of the foreign affairs committee in the Russian upper house of parliament, called the action “a mistake”.
He said further, “Turning it into a mosque will not do anything for the Muslim world. It does not bring nations together, but on the contrary, brings them into collision.”
And we believe he is right!
Edited by Jesus Chan
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