Timing will be crucial as Erdogan’s re-Islamizing Turkey continues to press for a second defeat of Christendom by the symbolic move of turning Hagia Sophia into a mosque. Will pressure from Russia to return the great Cathedral to the Orthodox Church prevent or merely delay what many view as inevitable? Or is there something larger at stake?
Every year on May 29, Turkey celebrates Islam’s defeat of Constantinople and the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire in 1453, and the conversion of the great church, Hagia Sophia, into a mosque soon after. Every year Muslims gather outside Hagia Sophia demanding it be turned back into a mosque, after eighty years of being a secular museum with both Christian Byzantine and Islamic features.
But this year is different, as Turkish authorities are allowing the reading of the Koran in Hagia Sophia:
Turkish national broadcaster TRT Diyanet will broadcast the sahur or Islamic predawn meal along with daily readings from the Koran during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan which began [last] Monday.
From the same story at AINA:
An angry war of words has erupted between Greece and Turkey after Turkish authorities permitted a daily Koran reading to be broadcast from Turkey's famous Hagia Sophia, a former Byzantine cathedral...
Greece's Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the move in a statement calling it "bigotry" and "not compatible with modern, democratic and secular societies."
"Muslim rituals in a monument of world cultural heritage are incomprehensible and reveal a lack of respect for and connection with reality," the statement said.
Dora Bakoyannis, a Greek politician and former minister of foreign affairs said the decision to hold Islamic prayers there essentially turns the Hagia Sophia into a mosque, in a "provocative and incomprehensible act," showing "disrespect against Orthodox Christians across the world."
Last month thousands of Muslim worshipers led by an Imam, crowded around the Hagia Sophia, demanding the right to pray there, according to Turkish media.
During the reign of Turkey's progressive President Mustafa Ataturk the building was converted into a museum in 1935. Supporters of a secular Turkey have feared that under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Islamic-leaning reign, the Hagia Sophia could be transformed back into a mosque.
In 1985 UNESCO designated the Hagia Sophia a world heritage site.
The Turkish Muslim protesters are trying to play the victim card, even though they make up 99.8% of the population, according to a 2010 US Federal Report on Turkey in the Library of Congress, and enjoy over 80,000 mosques. This dominates the hapless Christians, who, according to another US Government report, at approximately 120,000 make up less than .2% of Turkey's population, with only 236 churches.
From a news story on the Hagia Sophia protest at Breitbart News:
The protesters, led by Mustafa Hasan, a Saudi imam, held up their mobile phones and chanted: “Break the chains! Open Hagia Sophia mosque!”
Oh yes, the Muslims in Turkey are in "chains"... of self delusion and spiritual deception. More:
Ali Yegmur, chairman of the Youth of Anatolia movement, delivered a speech to the crowd. “I ask Allah to allow Muslim prayer to be heard from the minarets of Hagia Sophia and to allow us to pray inside,” he said. “Hagia Sophia should be reinstated as a site of prayer and worship.”
“Leaving Hagia Sophia closed would send a message to the West that I have no right to practice my religion,” he added. “It would prompt 80 million living Turks and 50 million dead ones to cry in despair and destitution.”
Yes, the Muslim bullies cry in "despair and destitution" as they trample on the remnants of the Christian population they annihilated over the past century, and prior to that since the 15th century and earlier.
Just as the US and its allies continue to turn a blind eye to Muslim persecution of Christians, as well as to Christian refugees fleeing the Islamic State and other jihadist groups, so they do nothing to advocate for subjugated Christians in Turkey.
In contrast to US anti-Christian policy is the position of Russia, which has put forth a proposal for Turkey to return Hagia Sophia to the Orthodox Church as a sign of good will. From a report at Pravoslavie:
State Duma deputies have supported the idea of the return of Agia Sophia in Constantinople to the Orthodox Church. This was stated by Chairman of Committee on Property, and the coordinator of the inter-factional parliamentary group on the protection of Christian values, Sergei Gavrilov, TSN reports.
Today, when Russian-Turkish relations are undergoing an “endurance trial,” mutually friendly initiatives and proposals are of special importance, Gavrilov says.
“The Russian side deems it possible to return to the question of Agia Sophia, the ancient shrine of the Christian world, located in Constantinople – an ancient Byzantine cathedral associated with the history of the universal Christian Church. We expect a friendly step from the Turkish side - returning Agia Sophia of Constantinople to the Christian Church,” the deputy said.
He added that Russia is ready to participate financially, and to involve the best Russian architects and scientists in the restoration of the universal Christian monument.
“This step would help Turkey and Islam demonstrate that good will is above politics. Agia Sophia should be returned to Christians,” the parliamentarian said.
It's a generous offer: return Hagia Sophia to its rightful heirs, and prove your good will. Lessening of tensions between Russia and Turkey would almost certainly be a fruit of such an agreement.
Of course, one can hardly expect Erdogan and rapidly re-Islamizing Turkey to reverse course and make such an enormous symbolic move as to return Hagia Sophia to its rightful congregation. And perhaps that is part of Russia's gambit, as since the downing of a Russian jet fighter, Turkey has placed itself in Putin's bullseye.
Russia is offering Turkey a path to peace, if they back way down and concede a symbolic landmark.
The failure of Turkey to offer such a dramatic concession to the Russian Federation on behalf of the Orthodox Church would be to further confirm Turkey's intentions as an Islamic supremacist proto-caliphate, and ensure its status as Russian target and polis non grata.
This bears watching...