By Ioannis Mpaltzois
There are more mosques in Turkey than there are schools. To the existing 84,684 mosques, one more was added. Hagia Sophia became the 84,685th mosque in Turkey. In Istanbul, the number of mosques rose from 3,269 to 3,270.
And as journalist Rami Turan says in an article in the July 14 issue of the Soji newspaper:”How nice! We no longer have a shortage of mosques!! “. And he continues, although we are impressed by his boldness: “Financial crises and failures want to be covered by playing with the religious feelings of our people.” Turan also writes: “What did we gain as a nation by opening the Hagia Sophia for worship?” Will unemployment in the country stop?
Will costliness in the kitchen decrease? Will it contribute to education and training? Will it fix the economy? Will the stomachs of the 20 million people living on the brink of starvation be filled? Will freedoms increase and democratic rights be granted? Will the detained journalists be released from prison? Will freedom of expression return? Will corruption and shamelessness end? Really, what will happen? Nothing will happen and all your problems will continue!”
“A show of barbarism”
And sociologist, historian and writer Taner Akcam, an academic persecuted by the Erdogan regime, wrote in an article entitled “Turkey’s test of civilization” on ahvalnews: “The deed that is being performed in regard to Hagia Sophia is a clear show of barbarism. It is a declaration of a “Turkish lack of culture and destructiveness” to the entire world.
And the pairing of President and AK Party leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with MHP leader Devlet Bahçeli is the political alliance through which this lack of culture and destructiveness has been made manifest. “But, why?” you may ask. Because with this step it’s being said to the world that “Even though we live in the 21st century, our mentality is still that of 1453.” The above views of two important Turks, reflect the views of a significant portion of people in Turkey, especially in Western Turkey, Asia Minor and Istanbul.
After the provocative fiesta on Friday, with the nationalist and religious delirium of the fanatical masses, Erdogan considered that he had achieved the goals he was pursuing with this vile act, disorienting his people from the real problems plaguing Turkey, as reported by journalist Rami Turan. The question that arises, however, is why he has now chosen to take this action, since a year ago he seemed to be opposing it, setting as a parameter the international reactions and the damage to the economy. Let’s look at the reasons.
President Erdogan is a man who likes symbolism. His decisions and actions are determined by historical dates and chronological designations, which refer to the past, present and future, through symbols. The date of the first prayer at the “Great Mosque of Hagia Sophia”, as it was named, took place on July 24, the day of the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne, which was the birth certificate of the Turkish Republic.
Erdogan’s original primary aim is to demonstrate, especially abroad and in Greece in particular, that the Lausanne Treaty is not only being challenged, but does not exist in practice, as Hagia Sophia and Turkey point out. The symbols are thought to be:
- Hagia Sophia is a monument of high symbolic value.
- It is a symbol of conquest, it belongs to the conqueror and no one has the right to criticize Turkey for using the conquered site. This is a sample of the culture of the Mongol and Turanian peoples, who do not create culture.
- It is a message to the main target of Turkey, Hellenism and the celebrations for the 200 years of the revolution of 1821. The message clearly says that the conquest continues, that “Greeks, you are still slaves”.
- It is the symbol of Turkey’s return to neo-Ottomanism.
- It is a symbol of Turkish anti-Western aggression.
- It is the symbol of the victory of the Turks over the Greeks.
- It is the symbol of Islam’s victory over Christianity.
- Hagia Sophia is now, for Erdogan, the center of the new Islam, along with Mecca, Medina and the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. He seeks to be considered the Caliph and leader of Sunni Islam.
- It is the monument that Mustafa Kemal changed its use and he has canceled that, and so he is also canceling the father of the Turks (Ataturk) and his policy.
- The message of Kemal’s cancellation passes, so he is the new Ataturk and goes down in history as “Erdogan Ataturk”, the successor who shares the same genes as Alp Arslan (Battle of Matzikert, 1071 AD) and Muhammad Conqueror (1453 AD), as his sycophants write.
The Greek Hagia Sophia
Let us refer to the majestic Holy Temple of Christianity, a dream of Constantine the Great and a work of Justinian. The ground laying took place on February 23, 532 (probably on the Temple of Apollo) and was inaugurated by Emperor Justinian on December 27, 537 AD, as the Temple of the Holy Wisdom of God.
At the inauguration, Justinian, accompanied by Patriarch Minas and a crowd of people, went on foot to the Hagia Sophia, where the emperor entered and said: “Glory to God for the construction of this prestigious work. I have bested you Solomon”. It is of great importance, it is the imperial symbol, the monument that expresses a culture, Byzantine culture, and therefore Greek culture.
The Hagia Sophia promotes Christianity, but also Hellenism, as a cultural creation of the Greeks. Professor Kontogiorgis stated that at the time when Justinian entered Hagia Sophia, the Roman “Imperium” handed over the keys of ecumenical domination to Hellenism, to the now world-dominant Greeks. That is why, says the professor, there is the hostility of the West towards Byzantium and Hellenism and this explains the indifference, inaction and apathy of the Christian West, towards Erdogan’s decision to turn Hagia Sophia into a mosque.
As the Parthenon is a symbol of Hellenism and Democracy, so Hagia Sophia is a symbol of Hellenism and Democracy, in the sense that in addition to being a place of worship and prayer, it also implemented the ancient Ecclesia of the Demos, the assembly of the people, since all the important events, and even the elections of emperors took place inside the Temple (Hagia Sophia).
Turkey and the destruction of civilizations
The change in the status of Hagia Sophia by Erdogan does not alter its existence, its form and its purpose. The Turks may brag about the booty of the conquest, that they have the right to do what they want, claim that it was a mosque for five centuries, but they forget to say that it was for ten centuries the most glorious Church in the world.
It was inaugurated as a Church, consecrated as a Church and remains a Church. Whatever cloths they put in front of the glorious mosaics, the enthroned Virgin Mary and our Christ, the huge Cherubim and the rest of the masterpieces are there and they bear witness to the disrespect, the insult, the barbarity that is taking place. Hagia Sophia remains a Christian church and naive fanatical Muslims pray in a consecrated Christian church.
And as the 19th-century Russian thinker Nikolai Danilevsky put it, human societies fall into two categories, the creators of civilization (which of course includes Greece) and the destroyers of civilization, which include three peoples, the Huns, the Mongols and the Turks. And these peoples have always been the negative factors of history. And this is Erdogan’s Turkey today.