WHAT JUST HAPPENED
Turkey’s highest court allowed for the conversion of the nearly 1,500 year old Hagia Sophia from a museum into a mosque.
The centuries-old structure, listed as a UESCO World Heritage site
The original church on the site of the Hagia Sophia is said to have been ordered to be built by Constantine I in 325 on t’ foundations of a pagan temple.
Paganism is a term first used by early Christians for people in the Roman Empire who practiced polytheism.
Built in Anno Domini 537, during the reign of the Roman emperor Justinian I, it was then the world’s largest interior space and the 1st to employ a fully pendentive dome.
It is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture (the architecture of the Byzantine Empire, or Eastern Roman Empire)
In 1453, Mehmed the Conqueror ordered the cathedral converted into a mosque.
At the age of 21, Mehmed conquered Constantinople (modern day Istanbul) and brought an end to the Byzantine Empire (Eastern Roman Empire).
The structure of the monument was then subjected to several interior and exterior changes where Orthodox symbols were removed or plastered upon and minarets were added to the exterior of the structure. For a long period, the Hagia Sophia was Istanbul’s most important mosque.
In I 934,Aciatuk ordered that the Hagia Sophia be converted into a museum. It opened to the public in 1935.
REVERSION TO MOSQUE
Since 2018, president of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan has spoken of reverting the status of the Hagia Sophia back to a mosque, a move seen to try to regain popularity among the population.
In March 2019 Erdogan said that he will change the status of Hagia Sophia from a museum to a mosque, adding that it had been a “very big mistake” to turn it into a museum. As a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation World Heritage site, this change would require approval from UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee
This year ,Government of Turkey is set to celebrate the 567th anniversary of the Fall of Constantinople with an Islamic prayer in Hagia Sophia.
“Al-Fath surah will be recited and prayers will be done at Hagia Sophia as part of conquest festival,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan President of Turkey said during a televised broadcast.
When President Erdogan announced that the first Muslim prayers would be held inside the building on 24 July, he added that “like all our mosques, the doors of Hagia Sophia will be wide open to locals and foreigners, Muslims and non-Muslims as a tourist.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR SECULARISM IN TURKEY?
In an interview shortly after the verdict, Nobel prize winning author Orhan Pamuk (Turkish novelist) told the British Broadcasting Corporation: “There are millions of secular Turks like me who are crying against this but their voices are not heard…To convert it back to a mosque is to say to the rest of the world unfortunately we are not secular anymore:’
Turkey Changes Hagia Sophia into a Mosque Turkey Changes Hagia Sophia into a Mosque