Above: A Byzantine mosaic in the old church Hagia Sophia showing the Judgment day with Jesus Christ to the left and John the Baptist to the right, from the 12th century, Constantinople, Turkey
Imagine if the leader of a Christian nation (though none identifies as such save for the Vatican), declared the Great Mosque of Mecca a church. That’s what this is.
That there was “jubilation” outside the iconic church chanting “Allah akbar!” (Allah is greater [than your g-d]), is all you need to know about supremacism in Islam.
Church of Hagia Sophia, also called Church of the Holy Wisdom or Church of the Divine Wisdom, cathedral built at Constantinople (now Istanbul, Turkey) in the 6th century ce (532–537) under the direction of the Byzantine emperor Justinian I. By general consensus, it is the most important Christian Byzantine structure and one of the world’s great churches.
Turkey’s president formally makes Hagia Sophia a mosque
Suzan Fraser, Associated Press, July 10, 2020:
ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — The president of Turkey on Friday formally converted Istanbul’s sixth-century Hagia Sophia back into a mosque and declared it open for Muslim worship, hours after a high court annulled a 1934 decision that had made the religious landmark a museum.
The decision sparked deep dismay among Orthodox Christians. Originally a cathedral, Hagia Sophia was turned into a mosque after Istanbul’s conquest by the Ottoman Empire but had been a museum for the last 86 years, drawing millions of tourists annually.
There was jubilation outside the terracotta-hued structure with its cascading domes and four minarets. Dozens of people awaiting the court’s ruling chanted “Allah is great!” when the news broke. A large crowd later prayed outside it.
In the capital of Ankara, legislators stood and applauded as the decision was read in Parliament.
Turkey’s high administrative court threw its weight behind a petition brought by a religious group and annulled the 1934 Cabinet decision that turned the site into a museum. Within hours, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed a decree handing over Hagia Sophia to Turkey’s Religious Affairs Presidency.
In a televised address to the nation, Erdogan said the first prayers inside Hagia Sofia would be held on July 24, and he urged respect for the decision.
“I underline that we will open Hagia Sophia to worship as a mosque by preserving its character of humanity’s common cultural heritage,” he said, adding: “It is Turkey’s sovereign right to decide for which purpose Hagia Sofia will be used.”
He rejected the idea that the decision ends Hagia Sophia’s status as a structure that brings faiths together.
Erdogan had spoken in favor of turning the hugely symbolic UNESCO World Heritage site back into a mosque despite widespread international criticism, including from U.S. and Orthodox Christian leaders, who had urged Turkey to keep its status as a museum symbolizing solidarity among faiths and cultures.
The move threatens to deepen tensions with neighboring Greece, whose prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, condemned the decision as an affront to Hagia Sophia’s ecumenical character.