President of Turkey's Religious Affairs Ali Erbaş's speech started a discussion in Turkey's politics. (Image Credit-Bianet)
/ / The Speech of the President of Turkey’s Religious Affairs Ali Erbaş

The Speech of the President of Turkey’s Religious Affairs Ali Erbaş

As of July 24th, Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) converted Hagia Sophia into a mosque. Hagia Sophia, as you know, is the world’s one of the most popular tourist attractions. Once it was a museum, now is a mosque, Hagia Sophia has been a religious center for Orthodox Christianity over 1.500 years. And so, Hagia Sophia had remained as a museum until last week, neither mosque nor church. However, the Turkish government converted it to a mosque on the 24th of July. While impacts of this development still continue, statements of the president of Turkey’s religious affairs (Diyanet) have shocked the world once again.

Erdoğan shifts Islam into the mainstream of Turkish politics for his 17 years at the power. (Image Credit-Sanal Basın)
Erdoğan shifts Islam into the mainstream of Turkish politics for his 17 years at the power. (Image Credit-Sanal Basın)

Ali Erbaş: “There Should be Madrasah in It (Hagia Sophia)”

Turkey’s Religious Affairs (Diyanet) head Ali Erbaş has urged the opening of an Islamic school in Hagia Sophia following its conversion into a mosque on July 10. “I think the decision is very meaningful. May it host a lot of worshippers. “[However], Praying in it is not enough, there should be a madrasah [Islamic school] in it,” Erbaş said on July 11 in the Black Sea province of Rize.

Diyanet head Ali Erbaş praised the decision to convert the sixth-century site into a place of worship, wishing a high number of prayers.

“I think the decision is very meaningful. May it host a lot of worshippers. Praying in it is not enough, there should be a madrasah [Islamic school] in it,” Erbaş said on July 11 in the Black Sea province of Rize.

Ali Erbaş, the head of Turkey's Religious Affairs, sermon at Hagia Sophia with a sword in hand. (Image Credit-Daily Sabah)
Ali Erbaş, the head of Turkey’s Religious Affairs, sermon at Hagia Sophia with a sword in hand. (Image Credit-Daily Sabah)

President of Turkey’s Religious Affairs: More Than a Mosque

Ali Erbaş, the president of Turkey’s religious affairs has recently made a statement. “Our years passed by chanting slogans for Hagia Sophia to be converted into a mosque. It’s a mosque with a symbolic meaning for all Islamic world.”

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared Hagia Sophia a mosque on July 10 with the first Muslim prayers to begin in two weeks. It came true after a top court ruled the ancient building’s conversion to a museum by modern Turkey’s founding statesman was illegal.

Closeness Between Erdoğan and President of Turkey’s Religious Affairs

So, Erdoğan has sought to shift Islam into the mainstream of Turkish politics in his 17 years at the helm. He has long floated restoring the mosque status of the sixth-century building. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk had converted Hagia Sophia into a museum in the early days of the modern Turkish state.

President of Turkey's Religious Affairs Ali Erbaş (on the left), and President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (in the middle). (Image Credit-Southfront)
President of Turkey’s Religious Affairs Ali Erbaş (on the left), and President of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (in the middle). (Image Credit-Southfront)

In its ruling, the Council of State, Turkey’s top administrative court, said: “We conclude that the settlement deed allocated it as a mosque and its use outside this character is not possible legally.”

“The cabinet decision in 1934 that… defined it as a museum did not comply with laws,” it said. For doing so, they referred to an edict that Atatürk signed it.

Efforts for Islamic Lessons

Erbaş noted that the Diyanet is carrying out efforts on the issue of Islamic lessons. Furthermore, he also said that they will visit the mosque during the preparations for its opening on July 24. “We’re working on what’s needed there. We aim to complete our works by July 24,” Erbaş said.

Preparations for reopening Hagia Sophia as a museum. (Image Credit-Daily Sabah)
Preparations for reopening Hagia Sophia as a museum. (Image Credit-Daily Sabah)

Sword in Hand of the Religious Authority of Turkey

Turkey’s top religious authority head had delivered Friday sermon at Hagia Sophia with a sword in hand. Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) head Ali Erbaş delivered the Friday sermon at Hagia Sophia with a sword in hand. Thus, he presented an Ottoman tradition of conquest. They also hung two green flags on the pulpit of the mosque as a symbol of conquest.

“The longing of our nation, which has turned into heartbreak, is coming to an end today,” Erbaş said. He made the statement from the pulpit on July 24 while holding the sword.

Experts have said that Ottoman sultans were delivering sermons with swords after each conquest. Furthermore, two green flags were also ready on the pulpit of the mosque as a symbol of conquest.

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