ASIA/TURKEY - Deputy Premier Arinc: Ayasofya could once again soon become a mosque

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Istanbul (Agenzia Fides) - Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arinc again hinted at the imminent possibility of reopening the Islamic worship, the Ayasofya Museum in Istanbul. This was announced by Turkish press sources consulted by Fides Agency. The statements made by the deputy prime minister arrived on November 16 on the occasion of his participation at the inauguration of a carpet museum that are part of the artifacts kept in Ayasofya, recently restored by the Turkish General Directorate of Foundations. The influential Turkish political leader reiterated that in his eyes the ancient place of worship - the Byzantine basilica of Santa Sophia, converted to a mosque in 1453 and then into a museum by Kemal Ataturk in 1935 - today appears "sad" , while soon it will be "joyful" again when it returns to host the prayers of Muslims.
According to Arinç, the use of places of worship for other purposes has been prohibited by various laws. The Turkish parliament, in recent months, has agreed to consider the different applications submitted for the redevelopment of the museum in the mosque of Ayasofya in Istanbul.
Bülent Arinç is not a marginal figure of the Turkish political scene.
In recent months, he was highlighted as a partner of groups that animated the popular protests triggered by the story of Gezi Park. A few days ago he said he wanted to abandon politics as soon as possible, after having expressed his disagreement regarding Prime Minister Erdogan’s choice who had ordered the governor of the province of Adana to intervene to prevent the cohabitation between males and females in university apartments. "Arinç – explains to Fides Emre Oktem, professor of International Law at the Galatasaray University - is a convinced, traditional and popular Islamist. He is linked to the Fethullah Gülen movement, the thinker residing in the United States that supports a non-extremist vision of Islam and maintains relations with Jews and Christians, starting from Catholics". (GV) (Agenzia Fides 20/11/2013)