OPINION: Hagia Sophia and Erdogan’s stupidity


Dr. Wafa Abdullah Al-Rasheed

Will Erdogan be satisfied if the Jews turn the Dome of the Rock mosque into a synagogue or convert mosques in Haifa, Jaffa, Acre, and Jerusalem in Palestine into churches or turn the Church of the Holy Sepulchre into a mosque?

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the anger and hostility of all the Christians of the world are directed against you. Perhaps you gain the sympathy of some of your people temporarily in elections for your malicious political goals, but you will ultimately lose because you are playing with fire. This is my message to you and to those watching the scene from near and far.

The timing of the announcement of the conversion of the Hagia Sophia Museum, which is known for its Christian shrines and murals and is considered as one of the most important Roman architectural masterpieces in the history of the Middle East, is stupid and provocative to the civilized world.

Hagia Sophia was an Orthodox Christian cathedral for 916 years, and a mosque for 481 years until it turned into a museum in 1934. The goals of converting it into a mosque today are obvious. If anybody notices the difference between the statements of the Turkish president in Arabic and the English language, he will see that Erdogan was playing games while addressing Arabs and the West!

In his statement to the Arabs, he said: “The conversion of Hagia Sophia is similar to that of Al-Aqsa Mosque, and now it is back to the Muslims and the Ottoman civilization.” However, in his statement to the West, he said that the mosque would remain open to Muslims and non-Muslims and that the decision is related to his country’s sovereign and legal rights.

But why did this happen now? This is because the decision is a purely political card that he plays in order to manage his popularity within the country after the economic downturn, the deterioration of law and order, the curtailment of freedoms, ideological splits within the current allies, internal political rift, the collapse of the lira, and the failure of diplomacy in the foreign domain that was manifest in his defeats in Syria, Iraq, and Libya!

But how can he rob a Roman world heritage that found a place in the list of the UNESCO’s Heritage Sites? Greece, the homeland of the Romans, commented that Turkey’s decision to convert Hagia Sophia is “an open provocation to the entire civilized world.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared: “No one is trying to interfere in Turkey’s internal affairs. However, the Hagia Sophia, located in its territory in Istanbul, is an archaeological landmark for the entire mankind.” He added that the Turkish president is isolating Turkey culturally and pushing his country to six centuries back.

Of course, Erdogan would take advantage of these statements to pose himself as a leader and defender of the Islamic world, as well as a victim in the name of the Turkish people and the entire Muslims in addition to the one who is waiting his turn to fight the Western world. Turning a church into a mosque is the best card to play in front of his people to attack the rest of the Gulen movement and his new opponent Ahmet Davutoglu.

Here, there are some most important questions. What is the benefit to Muslims of the world if Hagia Sophia turns into a mosque? Will Erdogan be satisfied if the Jews turn the Dome of the Rock mosque into a synagogue or convert mosques in Haifa, Jaffa, Acre, and Jerusalem in Palestine into churches or turn the Church of the Holy Sepulchre into a mosque? Will he be okay if Europe turns our mosques into temples and churches? This is a serious issue if it escalates.

At present, Turkey does not recognize Islam in its constitution. It has an embassy with the Zionist entity and has strong relations with Tel Aviv! Erdogan’s Turkey is an ally of NATO (the Crusader), which destroyed mosques in Libya, Syria and Iraq through its continued bombings.

Suppose, we might have learned from the Brotherhood and the dirtiness of their lessons! Today we live in a civilized world that fights backwardness, barbarism, racism, and the exploitation of religions and peoples for achieving political gain.

Article first appeared on Saudi Gazette.

Dr. Wafa Abdullah Al-Rasheed is an Investor and Developer. She is a Columnist in Okaz Daily, and she holds PhD. in International relations and Diplomacy.

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