Erdogan’s Cultural Wars

What caused Erdogan’s change of heart on Hagia Sophia?

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s recent remarks that Hagia Sophia, a famed Istanbul landmark, could be reverted to a mosque have fueled both controversy and curiosity. Islamist, conservative and nationalist quarters in Turkey have long called for the ancient edifice — currently a museum — to be opened for Muslim worship.
As Turkish journalist Rusen Cakir, who closely follows Islamist movements, recalls, conservative and Islamist groups in Turkey used to raise three main demands in their demonstrations prior to the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) ascent to power in 2002. They included the lifting of bans on the Islamic headscarf, an end to restrictions on the imam-hatip religious schools and Hagia Sophia’s conversion to a mosque.Read more:

Furious Over Trump’s Decision on Golan Heights, Erdogan Confirms Hagia Sophia Will Become a Mosque


After it was reported that Turkish President Recep Erdogan was considering converting Istanbul’s iconic Hagia Sophia into a functioning mosque, many Orthodox Christians hoped he was just speculating. However, in an interview given yesterday, Erdogan confirmed that the historic site, which was previously a Christian cathedral and a special place of worship for Greek Orthodox Christians, will be turned into an enormous Islamic center.
“Ayasofya (Haghia Sophia) will no longer be called a museum. Its status will change,” Erdogan said in a live broadcast, according to Hurriyet Daily News. “We will call it a mosque.”

CHP leader slams Erdoğan for using Hagia Sophia as strategy to court votes

March 29 2019

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has slammed President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan after he once again said he would convert the Hagia Sophia into a mosque, saying the president used the matter, a sensitive issue for conservative voters, as a strategy to garner more votes only a few days before the local elections this weekend.
“What difference would it make to label [Hagia Sophia] as a mosque when its function will remain as a museum. [Erdoğan’s] aim is to court votes through this,” Kılıçdaroğlu said in an interview with private broadcaster FOX TV on March 29.

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Demand for Hagia Sophia to be opened for prayer ‘inadmissible,’ says top court

September 13 2018

The Constitutional Court on Sept. 13 held an application made by a private association that called for the opening of the Hagia Sophia to worshipping as “inadmissible” on the grounds of “incompetence ratione personae,” state-run Anadolu Agency has reported.
The Constitutional Court dismisses applications as incompatible ratione personae when the applicant is not a victim of the events or measures in question.
The relevant Istanbul-based association requested the Turkish government to make arrangements to open the Hagia Sophia as a Muslim prayer house in 2004 but did not receive a response.

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