A video of a ballerina doing a split inside Istanbul’s historic Hagia Sophia Museum on Saturday has caused widespread outrage in nationalist and Islamist circles in Turkey.
Turkish newspapers, as well as social media commentators, described the incident as a “desecration”, a “scandal” and an “insult to Islamic values”.
The administration of the museum announced on Sunday that it has launched an investigation into how the incident occurred in the building, which was once Orthodoxy’s holiest site, and then a mosque, before it was made into a museum.
Meanwhile, a group of Muslim men performed prayers at the museum on Sunday, in an apparent act of protest against the ballerina’s dance.
The ancient church of Hagia Sophia, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, served as the center of the Greek Orthodox church for more than 900 years before it was converted to a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul in 1453.
The structure was turned into a museum in 1935; however, Islamists in Turkey frequently campaign for it to be turned back into a mosque.