There is no justification for turning Hagia Sophia into a mosque

Jul 16, 2020 by

by Michael Nazir-Ali, Spectator:

Turkey is jeopardising freedom of worship.

It is official: Hagia Sophia, for a thousand years the world’s largest cathedral, and since 1934 a museum, is to be turned back into a mosque. Ever since I heard of the possibility, I have been praying it would not be so because of the impact it will have on Muslim-Christian relations in Turkey, the Middle East and beyond. A suitably purged and compliant judiciary, however, has bowed to the wishes of the authoritarian President Erdogan that Turkey should become more Islamic and less secular.

There has been a church on the site since 360 ad and the present building dates from the reign of Justinian in the mid-sixth century. When Mehmed II conquered Constantinople in 1453 and renamed it Islamople or Istanbul, Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque and remained thus until the secular nationalists, led by Kemal Ataturk, turned it into a museum open to all. Such a turning of a cathedral into a mosque is not unique. Long before then, the Cathedral of St John the Baptist in Damascus had been turned into the Umayyad mosque and the Fatimid Caliph Al Hakim had razed the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to the ground, sparking the Crusades.

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See also:

A Tale of Two Buildings – the Hagia Sophia and the Free Church Manseby David Robertson, Christian Today

Reclaim Hagia Sophiaby Declan Leary, Crisis Magazine

Top Court Declares Hagia Sophia a Mosqueby Jules Gomes, Church Militant

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