Recep Tayyip Erdogan seems himself as the President that ‘makes history’. So, he seeks to make ‘historical decisions’.
On July 10, Erdogan signed a decree officially turning the world-famous Hagia Sophia into a mosque, after the Turksih court ruled that its conversion to a museum in the 1930s was unlawful. According to the court, the 1934 decree converting the ancient Byzantine cathedral into a museum was not lawful. Immediately, Erdogan shared a copy of a decree on Twitter, mandating that the site be turned over to the country’s religious directorate and reopened for worship.
President Erdoğan addresses the nation https://t.co/Z7Gjz8Yr9g
— Turkish Presidency (@trpresidency) July 10, 2020
Dating back to the 6th century, the Hagia Sophia is one of the most visited cultural sites in Turkey, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the symbolic place for the Christian world. It was originally built as the great Cathedral of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire in 537 and was the seat of the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople.
Earlier, Erdogan spokesperson Ibrahim Kalin said that opening the Hagia Sophia for muslim worship will not prevent local or foreign tourists from visiting the iconic site and that a loss of the structure as a world heritage site “is not in question.”
“Turkey will still preserve the Christian icons there, just like our ancestors preserved all Christian values,” he told the Anadolu Agency on July 9.
Despite the public rhetoric, the decision to turn Hagia Sophia into a mosque is for sure an act of agression towards the Christian world and a signal that Turkey is going to conitune providing the Erdogan-style foreign policy aimed at turning the modern Turkey into a kind of neo-Ottoman Empire under his leadership.
It’s interesting to note that Turkish propaganda on the highest level likes to adress the times of the Ottoman Empire in order to justify the occupation of northern Syria, Turkey’s ongoing intervention in Libya and other actions of the country in the region. So, it was just a question of time when the Erdogan government moves to restore other ‘symols’ of the Ottoman Empire ‘cultural heritage’ inside Turkey itself.
From the geopolitical point of view, the July 10 decision of President Erdogan is a logical public step highlighting the plans to implement the concept of New Greater Turkey in the Middle East and turn Turkey into the power that will have a real influence on the global scene.
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