As President Recep Tayyip Erdogan rushes to consolidate his political Islam project, he is increasingly abandoning the project of the modern Turkish Republic (and the ideals of its founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk) – making Turkey an increasingly troubled nation. Erdogan’s project concentrates on a Turkish-led religious-nationalist pan-Islamist global movement that racializes “Muslims” as a group hostile and antithetical to the West. In doing so, he is enflaming passions, and further widening the gap between East and West. His latest gimmick is to turn the Hagia Sophia into a mosque, ostensibly to enhance shared human heritage. Doing so, however, desecrates its legacy and damages Muslim-Christian relations.
The original Church of Holy Wisdom (or ‘Hagia Sophia’) was completed in 537 A.D. after the Roman emperor Justinian decided to build an architectural wonder and introduce the pendentive dome to honor Constantine the Great (306-337 A.D.) and the imperial capital of Constantinople. The church is said to have changed the history of architecture and is considered a masterpiece as its dome gives the impression that it is suspended from heaven. According to the Ottoman historian Tursun Beg, the dome “vies in rank with the nine spheres of heaven,” though the 40 windows beneath the dome are equally impressive inventions since they illuminate the gold mosaics and capture the imagination of all who admire them.
A shot of the majestic Hagia Sophia. (File photo: Reuters)
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
Muslims pray outside the Hagia Sophia. (AFP)