Turkey’s decision to turn Istanbul’s 6th century Hagia Sophia cathedral from a museum into a mosque has sparked controversy across the world including accusations that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has framed the issue differently based on his audience.
Erdogan criticized for double speak
Spot the difference.— Jenan Moussa (@jenanmoussa) July 11, 2020
Erdogan in English: Hagia Sophia's doors will be, as is the case with all our mosques, wide open to all, whether they be foreign or local, Muslim or non-Muslim.
Erdogan in Arabic: Revival of Hagia Sophia is a sign towards return of freedom to AlAqsa mosque. pic.twitter.com/6Niid8fP8J
Two Completely Contradictory Messages— جهينه ع. آل علي (@JuhainaAlAli) July 11, 2020
As #Erdogan uses phrases such as 'open to all' and 'shared heritage of humanity' in English
In Arabic it reads as a romanticised Sultan-like speech appealing to a certain "fan base" to trigger extremist ideology and action pic.twitter.com/nLgjZMrHKK
Is Hagia Sophia decision the end of secularism?
Here is a personal note: I am a proud #Ottoman. I have always been.— Mustafa Akyol (@AkyolinEnglish) July 10, 2020
But to me, it means not conquest (which was a reality of the times, but nothing virtuous.) It means pluralism, tolerance, lack of nationalist bigotry.
I do respect Sultan Mehmed II. But for things like this: pic.twitter.com/LXJMEUkZmc
This regrettable move Mr President makes Istanbul poorer culturally. There are over 3,000 mosques in Istanbul. Hagia Sophia is much more than a physical building, it is a unifying symbol for various faiths. https://t.co/w2HPOO5gbo— سلطان سعود القاسمي (@SultanAlQassemi) July 10, 2020
Religiously divisive – but backed by some
Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill leads a religious procession marking the 700th anniversary of declaring Moscow the capital of Orthodox Russia. (File: AP)
Those Muslims saying Erdoğan was justified in converting the Hagia Sofia because Christian nations converted mosques into churches are missing the point spectacularly.— Khaled Diab (@DiabolicalIdea) July 11, 2020
Meeting wrong with wrong is wrong.
Besides, this goes against the tenets established by Umar ibn al-Khattab.