ASIA/TURKEY - "Kemalist theologians": the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque fuels Islamophobia

Wednesday, 22 July 2020 middle east   oriental churches   holy places   geopolitics   islam   islamophobia  

Istanbul (Agenzia Fides) - The decision to reopen the ancient Christian basilica of Hagia Sophia exclusively for Islamic worship risks becoming "a serious and irreparable error", destined to foment Islamophobic sentiments around the world. This is what is written in an article-appeal re-launched by the Turkish media by three well-known Turkish intellectuals, experts in theology and history of Turkey, who apply to themselves the eloquent definition-label of "Kemalist theologians". Nazif Ay, Mehmet Ali Öz et Yusuf Dülger in their intervention stress that the choice to reconvert the monumental complex of Ayasofya into a mosque annihilates "the messages of reconciliation and justice of Islam", while the attempt to return the temple built by Orthodox Christians through the path of accomplished facts "will offend non-Muslims and give new impetus to Islamophobia and hatred against Islam".
On Sunday 19 July Ibrahim Kalin, spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, made the move to declare to the "CNN Turk" television station that everyone is invited to the official reopening as a mosque of Hagia Sophia, including Pope Francis.
Erdogan has established that Ayasofya's reopening to Islamic worship will take place on Friday 24 July, and that the entire complex will still remain open to visits by foreign and local tourists.
The move to reuse Ayasofya as an Islamic place of worship came after the Turkish State Council canceled its museum status, imposed in 1934 on under Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of the modern Republic of Turkey.
During Islamic rites and prayers, the Christian mosaics that still adorn the interior of the ancient Basilica of Hagia Sophia will be shielded with an electronically operated curtain that will only come into operation between the start and end of the functions. The technicians in charge of operating this system are preparing a dossier to document that such a darkening system will not cause damage to the ancient mosaics. Meanwhile, while the marbles on the floor of Hagia Sophia are covered by the green carpet personally chosen by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (see Photo), circles and exponents of Islamist extremism continue to complain about the failure to dismantle the Byzantine sacred images from the walls of the temple . "If the images are not removed", said Turkish historian Ebubekir Sofuoglu - Ayasofya will be the first mosque in the world where images of prostitutes are exhibited (with reference to the figure of Empress Zoe, ed.). (GV) Agenzia Fides, 22/7/2020)