Istanbul (Agenzia Fides) - The Turkish Council of State, in a session put on the agenda for next Thursday 2 July, will consider opening the monumental complex of Ayasofya to Islamic worship again, reversing the decision with which, in the 1934, the Turkish government had converted the ancient Byzantine Basilica into a simple museum transformed into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople (1453). The pronouncement of the Council of State will represent a strong institutional response, which will allow to evaluate the realistic possibilities of success of the pressure put in place by sectors of the Turkish political leadership to reopen the ancient Byzantine Basilica of Haghia Sophia again to Islamic worship.
In recent days, as reported by Fides (see Fides, 6/6/2020), Turkish media have published rumors that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan himself has given instructions to change the statute of the monumental complex of Agyasofya, so that it can also be used again as a place of Islamic worship, without closing the building for tourist visits.
Meanwhile, the new campaign set in place by sectors of Turkish power to bring Ayasofya back to its function as a place of Islamic worship is provoking vehement reactions all over the world, and the whole affair is also transformed in a battlefield of geopolitical clashes. Among the most decisive pronouncements we note the one put in place by the "House of Fatwa" (Dar al Ifta al Misryah), an Egyptian observatory, chaired by the Grand Mufti of Egypt and charged with disseminating indicative pronouncements and resolving doubts and controversies regarding the application of the Koranic precepts. The Egyptian body, intervening at a time marked by the strong opposition between Egypt and Turkey also on the Libyan scenario, has come to define the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople as an "occupation", marking the transformation into a mosque of the Basilica of Haghia Sophia as an unfortunate event.
Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev also spoke about the controversy around Ayasofya, according to whom "attempts to change the status of Hagia Sophia, which is now a museum, could lead to change and violation of the balance between religions". Meanwhile, also in Turkey political analysts such as Orhan Bursal, columnist of the Cumhuriyet newspaper, in a recent article argued that the "Hagia Sophia" is used by the Turkish leadership as an "electoral tool", also useful to identify "external enemies" to expose to the resentment of Turkish public opinion. At a time of economic crisis also linked to the ongoing pandemic crisis. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 10/6/2020)