How the Hagia Sophia became Turkey’s latest political battleground | DW News

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President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants to turn Istanbul's world-famous tourist site into a mosque. He is trying to score points with Turkish voters, but his plans have encountered considerable resistance.

The Hagia Sophia is the symbol of Istanbul and Turkey's most popular tourist attraction. Every year, millions of visitors take in its gigantic brick dome and elaborate frescoes, which have earned the building UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site status.
But the Hagia Sophia is more than just an architectural masterpiece: It has always been a political symbol, as well. The monumental structure was built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian in the sixth century A.D. When the Ottomans conquered Constantinople in 1453, Sultan Mehmed II immediately converted the cathedral into a mosque. The founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, utilized the church for another act with symbolic significance: In 1935 he turned the Hagia Sophia into a museum, which conveyed the message that modern Turkey was a secular country.
Now, the current Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is also planning on making symbolic capital out of the building, which is situated in Istanbul's central Fatih district. For many of Erdogan's voters, who tend to have nationalist-Islamist sympathies, the Hagia Sophia symbolizes the conquest of Christian Constantinople by the Ottomans, and the superiority of the Islamic world.
President Erdogan appears unfazed by objections, recently telling the Greek Orthodox community in Turkey: "You say to us: 'Please don't turn the Hagia Sophia into a mosque.' Do you mean Turkey should bow to your will? We await the decision of the Council of State. After that, the necessary steps will be taken."
Erdogan's initiative is seen as an attempt to swing the Turkish electorate back behind the AKP. The majority of polls indicate that the party has lost significant support of late. As a result, Erdogan has in recent months been pushing to galvanize nationalist sentiment among the populace.

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💬 Comments on the video

Has he just made it easier for lsrael to come up with the third temple moun at dome of he rock . Well, we will just wait n watch.

Author — Robertus Adhis


I can see the new generation of sheep-people are ready to be slaughtered as planned....in the name of religion again!

Author — Bildencarlia


Please DON'T play politics with religious issues...God is watching...GOD knows...Is In CONTROL...Amen

Author — felix gregory


Pseudo topic just to cover economic crisis.

Author — Oktay Berkay


Wow, what a "secular" country. Screw these supremacists, man

Author — Spooking


iwonder will the wind breeze by will the spirits be awaken

Author — brata sena


Turkey the state with the ideology of isis

Author — Living Mortal


First there is pride. Than there comes the fall.

Author — Nikolaj


Like they don't have enough mosques already.

Author — Кристиан Тошев


I suggest Turkey to do 24 Hours Live cctv video on TV like Makkah and Madina.

Author — Vicky Soomro


Brilliant information u gave aisay hi videos banaty rahy and keep it up man...

Author — Nida Queen


I do not bother it. It is only for elections in Turkey. In front of it there is a big Sultan Ahmet (Blue) Mosque.

Author — Vlkn Grt


France, Egypt, Cyprus and Greece, Russia are already creating a counter alliance, you are blind if you don`t see the Turks will face same enemies as in 1921.

Author — Klaas Komvaak


Political play ground ..you are jocking man

Author — ssp ssp


Greetings from Turkey. The economy hits the poor. The ruling party needs a brand new story. They dont want to talk about politics because people are hungry and mostly unemployed. So the ruling party created that Hagia Sophia story. Most of the poor people are highly religious in Turkey. Its not about dogma its all about money dum dum dum....

Author — Cemal Ersin


The closer to the church, the farther from God. Faith must be in heart, not in some place/building. It is worldly politics. I disagree with change. Let it stay a museum.

Author — W S


Such a coincidence, 2 days before this decision I was watching a serie about the ottoman empire and Mehmet II

Author — Hicham Alaoui


You know it's for reason like this that we don't alow you in to the cathedral-mosque of Córdoba

Author — Aratiri GJ


Great for social distancing stay safe.

Author — Classy Chassey Car Hop Trays


To appreciate what just happened we need to envision St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican as a Mosque.

Author — George Kafantaris