In 2020, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia “a Mohammedan place of prayer.” Made as an Orthodox Christian cathedral in the 6th century by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I, the Hagia Sophia turned into a mosque following the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453. In 1934, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk overthrew the Ottoman sultanate and created the modern secular Turkish republic. He also made the Hagia Sophia into a museum, wishing it would serve as a bridge between Islam and Christendom. Gaston Carre of the Luxemburger Wort, a German-language Luxembourgish daily newspaper, notes,

What makes the Hagia Sophia so magnificent is the juxtaposition of cultures in its decor, “the counterpoint of its spires and domes, minarets and cupolas, caligraphy and mosaics.” It’s a metaphorical dialogue between East and West. But the Islarnist Erdogan “doesn’t do dialogue.” By overturning Ataturk’s vision, Erdogan has rejected secularism and cast himself as successor to the Ottomans.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *