‘It would strengthen Turkey’: Editor of Turkish magazine defends call for caliphate

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The editor of a Turkish magazine that called for the establishment of an Islamic caliphate on its cover following the conversion of the Hagia Sophia into a mosque is defending the decision, saying a caliphate would “strengthen Turkey.”

Editor of Gercek Hayat magazine, Kemal Ozer, said Monday that an Islamic caliphate would be the “union of Muslims” in a series of tweets after the magazine’s cover caused controversy for calling for the declaration of a caliphate.

“The Caliphate is the Union of Muslims… it is the foundation of a unity that would strengthen Turkey,” said Ozer in a series of tweets defending the choice.

Gercek Hayat is a political Islamist magazine that is published by Albayrak Media Group, known for its loyalty to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan applauds during a conference in Istanbul on July 28, 2020. (AP)
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan applauds during a conference in Istanbul on July 28, 2020. (AP)

The latest cover of the magazine, published Monday, said “Now Hagia Sophia and Turkey are independent…Get together for Caliphate.”

“If not now, when? If not you, who?” it went on to say, in both Turkish, English, and Arabic. Some have interpreted this as a call for Erdogan to establish Islamic rule that transcends Turkey’s borders.

The cover displayed the Arabic words of the Islamic declaration of faith known as the shahada.

The magazine cover has drawn the ire of the Ankara Bar Association, who filed a criminal complaint against the magazine, claiming the cover incites the public towards “hate and enmity,” according to Ahval news outlet.

Earlier this month Erdogan announced the conversion of the ancient Hagia Sophia - originally built as a church in the sixth century – from a museum into a mosque.

It officially opened as a mosque on Friday with Erdogan in attendance for prayers and Turkey’s top government imam delivering a sermon holding an Ottoman sword.

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