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Hagia Sophia and Christians

19 Ağustos 2020, Çarşamba
The reaction of the current leaders of Turkey is different from the leaders of the past on the resurfaced tension of Hagia Sophia between the Greek.

Writer: Kazım Güleçyüz

Since now, the predominantly Orthodox Church's demand of turning Hagia Sophia into a church again had always been rectified by Ankara with the response of "Hagia Sophia is a museum and will always remain that way". However, this time, some statements were used that indicated Hagia Sophia to have a title as a mosque.

And once again, the Orthodox community had reactions and continue to have so.

About 10 years ago there was an International Hagia Sophia Coalition group formed by Greek Americans who attempted to come to change this symbol of conquering to a place of their worship but were stopped by Ankara's response of "museum".

Authorities in Ankara were exasperated when the previous Pope prayed in Hagia Sophia in his visit to Turkey, and were alarmed thinking "if he prays there, then the Muslims will want to pray their five daily prayers in there too".

Actually, despite the past (a church for centuries prior to its conquery and a mosque after its conquery), Hagia Sophia's inhibition from being a place of worship for both religions would make neither of the religions agree to this impostion.

For this reason, Christians should also disagree on this "let it stay as a museum" propostion. In fact some have.

Much like the examples of the late art historian Professor Semavi Eyice:

"Even the christian Byzantinian specialists were against Hagia Sophia becoming a museum. Prominent professors of the world such as Schweinfurth and Ch Diehl defended Hagia Sophia to remain as a mosque. Sorbonne Univeristy lecturer Professor Ch. Diehl said "it would not suit this building to become a museum". Berlin University lecturer (to whom I also worked as an assitant) Professor Schweinfurth had said, "inhibiting Hagia Sophia to remain as a mosque resulted in the building to lose its spirituality. I wish it had stayed as a mosque." (Star-Pazar, 18.10.14)

These remind us the statement of "to clean Hagia Sophia from paint etc. and to turn it into a place of worship in order to make the Muslim community and some of the Christian governments happy" made by Bediuzzaman made in his letter regarding Adnan Menderes, Namık Gedik and Tevfik İleri. (Emirdağ L. -II, s. 568)

Starting from this point of view, we can conclude that in order to open Hagia Sophia to worship again, we have to find and collaborate with Christians who are open to this idea.

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