The Transformation of the Hagia Sophia into a Mosque – a guest commentary by Hüseyin Çiçek im Wiener Standard

Symbolic picture for the article. The link opens the image in a large view.
Bildquelle: REUTERS/Fatih Saribas

On July 13, the associated EZIRE-member Hüseyin Çiçek commented in the Austrian newspaper Der Standard the transformation of the Hagia Sophia back into a mosque by the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

For Çiçek this transformation does not only imply an attack on the freedom of religion in Turkey, but also on the interreligious dialogue. At the same time the authoritarian tendencies in the domestic politics were intensifying and the growing social injustice was leading to an even more polarised Turkish society. Against this backdrop, the governmental party AKP was only left with the option to flee into content-free, religious-populist symbolic politics.

When the founder of the modern Turkish state, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, turned in 1934 the Hagia Sophia into a museum, this had served as a signal, that the confessional ditches that had been torn up during the 1st World War, shall not be continued in Turkey.