Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is scheduled to hitch tons of of worshippers Friday for the primary Muslim prayers on the Hagia Sophia in 86 years, after a controversial excessive court docket ruling paved the way in which for the landmark monument to be turned again right into a mosque.
A authorities decree reopened the “jewel” of the Byzantine Empire for Muslim worship and abolished its standing as a museum. The conversion of what was as soon as a very powerful church of Christendom has led to a world outcry.
The sixth century monument, which stays the principle function of the Istanbul skyline, has a historical past wealthy with symbolism.
Worshippers attend the afternoon prayer at Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey, July 26, 2020.
THE BYZANTINE ERA
Hagia Sophia, or the Church of Holy Knowledge, was constructed by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I on the location of a destroyed basilica of the identical identify. Accomplished in 537, it was among the many world’s largest domed constructions and would function the foremost Orthodox Christian church for some 900 years. Imperial ceremonies, together with the crowning of emperors, had been held there.
The multicoloured mosaics depicting the Virgin Mary, the infant Jesus, angels and different Christian symbols together with emperors and their households that centuries of rulers put in added to its fame as an architectural gem.
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THE OTTOMAN CONQUEST
Ottoman sultan Mehmet the Conqueror defeated the Byzantine Empire and captured Istanbul, then often known as Constantinople, in 1453. The 21-year-old instantly turned the majestic Hagia Sophia right into a mosque as an emblem of Muslim conquer town. The construction served as an imperial mosque and subsequent sultans added minarets, a college, library and a fountain, finishing its transformation right into a mosque complicated. The mosaics had been ultimately plastered over consistent with iconoclasm traditions that bar the depiction of figures.
Curtains cowl Christian frescoes inside Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque in the course of the afternoon prayer in Istanbul, Turkey, July 26, 2020.
A MUSEUM FOR A SECULAR TURKEY
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the conflict hero who based the Turkish Republic from the ruins of the Ottoman Empire in 1923, had Hagia Sophia made right into a museum in 1934 as a part of his reforms to construct a secular nation. Its mosaics had been introduced again into the open, and the construction served for years as an emblem of Istanbul’s wealthy multi-faith and multicultural previous.
Included on the record of World Heritage websites maintained by the U.N. cultural physique UNESCO, it grew to become one in all Turkey’s most-visited landmarks, drawing hundreds of thousands of vacationers yearly. Nonetheless, Atakurk’s resolution to stop Hagia Sophia’s use as a mosque was met with dismay by spiritual and nationalist teams. That they had lengthy referred to as for the long-lasting constructing to be “free of its chains” and transformed again right into a Muslim place of worship.
RESTORATION AS A MOSQUE
Erdogan signed a July 10 decree fulfilling their needs quickly after Turkey’s highest administrative court docket dominated that Istanbul’s conqueror had bequeathed the Hagia Sophia as a mosque and that the 1934 museum conversion was unlawful. His authorities has vowed to guard the Hagia Sophia’s Christian artifacts and to maintain the construction open to vacationers outdoors of prayer hours.
Folks depart Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque following the afternoon prayer in Istanbul, Turkey, July 26, 2020.
The ticket kiosk outdoors has been eliminated and the inside marble flooring have been coated in a turquoise-coloured carpet chosen by the president himself in preparation for the primary Friday prayers.
Some 500 invited individuals might be required to keep up social distance as a result of coronavirus outbreak. The mosaics might be coated up with curtains in the course of the prayers, officers have mentioned.
FULFILLING AN ISLAMIST DREAM
For Erdogan, a pious Muslim whose ruling celebration has roots in Turkey’s Islamic motion, performing Friday prayers at Hagia Sophia is a dream from his youth coming true. He has described Ataturk’s resolution to show it right into a museum as a “mistake” that’s now being rectified.
Folks take photos as they go to Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey, July 26, 2020.
Critics see the president’s resolution as the most recent transfer by Erdogan to distract consideration from financial woes the coronavirus has solely exacerbated and to shore up his conservative-religious help base. Opening up Hagia Sophia to Muslim prayers can be seen as part of Erdogan’s efforts to deepen Turkey’s Muslim id and to roll again his predecessor’s secular legacy.
(This story has been printed from a wire company feed with out modifications to the textual content. )
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