According to Turkish media, on May 29 the country’s Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan will attend a symbolic prayer in the orthodox temple of Hagia Sophia, in light of the anniversary of the seige of Constantinople by the Ottomans.
The Turkish newspaper, Hurriyet, published an article directed against those who have aspirations to turn Hagia Sophia back into a mosque. The church had been used as a mosque from May 29 1453 until 1931, when it was turned into a museum.
“I read everywhere, without any official confirmation, that Fethullah Gulen, is paving the way to reopen Hagia Sophia as a mosque, aiming to bring Erdogan’s government in a difficult position before the international community. I do not want to believe this. This is why I want to ask directly: Are those rumors true?” wrote Turkish journalist Ertugrul Ozkok.
He then continues: “Is this the main problem that should concern Turkey in the 21st century? […] Is it possible that a country where there exists about 80,000 religious shrines, wants to reopen one of the most important symbols of the Christian Orthodox Church as a mosque? How would we feel if we, one of the largest mosques in Europe was suddenly transformed into a Christian church? We have 80,000 mosques and we are focusing on Hagia Sophia?”
“The Fethullah Gulen that I know would not be happy with such a thing,” noted Hurriyet’s columnist.
The article concludes: “However, if these rumors are accurate, then they don’t serve society. If this is accurate, then all the dialogue and mutual understanding between Turkey and the international community so far, have been nothing more than hypocrisy. My friends, Istanbul has belonged to Turks for 560 years. Hagia Sophia has been our country’s monument for 90 years, a country whose residents are 99% Muslim. What more do you have to prove? And to whom? Amid 80,000 mosques you now focus on a Christian church? Shame, shame on you…”