For 900 years, since the middle of the 6th century approx, the Hagia Sophia Greek Orthodox Bassicila in Istanbul (known as the Ayasofia in Turkish) was the largest cathedral in the Christian world – atop the pile, so to speak. It then became a Mosque for 500 years, until it was converted into a museum in 1935 by a secular Turkish government. Its dome roof is still studied by architectural and engineering students worldwide, and it was a groundbreaking structure in its day, and even beyond.
If you follow Turkish politics in more recent times, then you will be aware that the Hagie Sophia has become one of the meats (there are many) in the internal Turkish conflict sandwich. There is much demand from Islamists that it reconverts to a Mosque, and in recent months a Muslim performed Islamic prayer on the floor of the building. There are also some other smaller buildings with the same name, but in different towns in Turkey, which are also the similar targets of the Islamic brothers. To the best of MB’s knowledge, some have already fallen.
Prime Minister Erdogan is a master fox in the overall political scheme of things, playing and relying very much on the less educated strands of society, who are also more prone to the urgings of the Muslim Imams. Turkish politics are in a huge state of flux at present, and it remains to be seen which way Erdogan will eventually go on this Hagia Sophia matter. If he wins the constitutional election next month, he will become an all-powerful President, and may very well not bother too much with this issue thereafter. Inshallah.
MB is now thinking back to a conversation he had a few short years back with a young Istanbul tourist guide who had taken part in the mass demonstrations in Taksim Square/Gezi Park of 2013. There were multiple groups involved in the protests and many seemed to have different agendas. MB’s young Turkish friend explained that all the groups, albeit from different strands of society, had one common bond. They did not want any further Islamisation of Turkey.
MB recently discussed this point with a Turkish friend in Qatar. He was of the opinion, given recent history and particularly the fact that Erdogan has used the recent military coup attempt to castrate the more secular opposition to his government, it will only be a few short years before Turkey becomes akin to Saudi Arabia in many Islamic respects. MB spent two years in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, (2012 to 2014) and has visited Istanbul multiple times so he can speak with a little authority on the subject. Suffice it to say, that many, if not the majority, in Saudi Arabia wish they could have what Turkey presently enjoys in terms of social life and culture. It’s sad, to put it mildly, that Erdogan should be taking his people in the opposite direction.
OK! MB knows this is just a Weekly Photo Challenge post, but he recently thought of posting something on the current Turkish situation. Today’s theme just opened the door, and MB decided to walk right in!
As much as I appreciate the photos, I really appreciate the insights you shared, MB. Recently I saw that ISIS, or whatever handle they go under these days, destroyed everything in the museum in Mosul. So much lost!!
So sad J. In certain parts of the Gulf region, the judicial system includes beheadings, stoning to death for adultary, removing hands, and more. It’s also true to say, generally speaking, that a large percentage of the Gulf has zero monuments or statues – because they might become places of idolatry. So the destruction of the contents of the museum in Mosul, or the monuments at Palmera, or the stone age behaviour of religious extremists have roots & a basis elsewhere, if one cares to look.
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