New Zealand Killer’s Reference to Hagia Sofia Angers President Erdogan

Turkish President Recep Tayipp Erdogan responded angrily on Friday to the so-called manifesto of the New Zealand killer, which contained hateful anti-Islamic language.

The pages-long rant by white supremacist Brenton Tarrant, 28, reveals an obsession with historical figures who fought against the Ottoman Empire, as well as far-right figures.

Tarrant is suspected to have shot dead at least 49 people and wounding 48 more in carrying out a terror attack at mosques in the city of Christchurch, New Zealand.

Among other things, the manifesto contained specific references to Turkey and ridding the famed Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, which he called Constantinople, of its minarets.

“My brothers, he called Istanbul ‘Constantinople!’ He threatened to turn Hagia Sophia into a church,” said Erdogan, addressing a crowd on Friday in Istanbul.

“As long as this people exists, as long as this soul exists, we will not allow this to happen,” Erdogan declared.

A photograph of the rifles the attacker used shows the word “Turkofagos”, or “Turk-eater” in Greek, which was the nickname of Nikitas Stamatelopoulos, a revolutionary in the Greek War of Independence.

The word “Turkofagos” is seen written on the rifle of the New Zealand shooter

Names of numerous historical military figures — many of them Europeans involved in fighting the Ottoman forces in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries — were also seen written in white on his rifles.

“With this attack, hostility towards Islam, that the world has been idly watching and even encouraging for some time, has gone beyond individual harassment to reach the level of mass killing,” Erdogan said.