Eid al-Adha: Turkey’s President Erdogan Takes Part in Prayer at Hagia Sophia

Date: 2020-07-31 05:36:09

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan takes part in prayer at the Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque in Istanbul.

To Erdogan and his religious conservative supporters, the reconversion of the Hagia Sophia to a mosque is a milestone in Turkey’s rebirth as a powerful, Muslim nation after a century of misguided efforts to imitate the Christian West.

Opponents of the move — at home and abroad — see it as the latest dramatic evidence that a less secular and tolerant Turkish state has emerged on Erdogan’s watch.

“To convert it back into a mosque is to say to the rest of the world, ‘Unfortunately we are not secular any more’,” Orhan Pamuk, the Nobel Prize-winning Turkish novelist, told BBC News. “There are millions of secular Turks like me who are crying against this, but their voices are not heard.”

The Byzantine cathedral has seen its status shift on two previous occasions in the past millennium, both of them momentous junctures for the region. It was turned from a Christian church into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople, now Istanbul — and from mosque to museum in 1934, as part of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s efforts to secularize his new Turkish Republic.
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