Erdoğan’s Islamist supremacy threatens Christian minorities in Turkey: MEF

 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s move to convert the Hagia Sophia cathedral into a mosque is part of his goal of dismantling Atatürk's secularist legacy and reasserting Islam's supremacy over Christianity in Turkey, Anne-Christine Hoff, an assistant professor of English at Jarvis Christian College in Hawkins, Texas, wrote in an article for Middle East Forum.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared the Hagia Sophia a mosque on June 10, 2020.

Built in 537 CE by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I as an Orthodox Christian cathedral, the Hagia Sophia was hugely significant for Eastern Christendom and has maintained its importance for the Greek-Orthodox Church. It was converted into a mosque following the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul in 1453.

The founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, later turned the structure into a museum in 1934.

Erdoğan praised the conversion of the cathedral into a mosque as the "second conquest of Istanbul".

“The Hagia Sophia is a symbol for the Islamic world and the symbol of Istanbul's conquest,” Hoff cited the head of the Anatolia Youth Association as saying. "Without it, the conquest is incomplete, [and] we have failed to honour Sultan Mehmet's trust."

Hoff also argued that popular TV series in Turkey can be seen as attempts to glorify Turkish triumphalism over Christian invaders. One of them is “Resurrection: Ertuğrul” broadcast by Turkey's state-run TRT1 channel for five seasons between 2014 and 2019. The series portrays the Turkish campaign against Byzantium and the crusaders in Anatolia in the thirteenth century as a heroic struggle against immoral Christian invaders.

Hoff considered the Turkish government’s decision in 2019 to transform the Kariye Museum, formerly the Church of St. Savior in the Chora, from amuseum into a mosque as another act of Islamist assertion.

Turkish President Erdoğan officially inaugurated Çamlıca Mosque, the largest in Turkey and one of the largest in the world, following the Friday prayers on May 3, 2019

The giant mosque, sitting atop the biggest hill overlooking the Asian shore of the Bosporus, is part of a 90-acre complex featuring a library and conference hall in addition to various other public facilities.

Hoff argued that Erdoğan’s Islamist moves in recent years have been introduced to “dismantle Atatürk's secularist legacy and reassert Islam's supremacy over Christianity”.

“The use of Ottoman symbols of conquest in both the Hagia Sophia ‘reconversion’ ceremony and the inauguration of Istanbul's Camlica Mosque complex offers a vivid illustration of Erdoğan's determination to advance his neo-Ottoman ambitions, including the dissolution of Atatürk's secularist legacy and the further decimation of Turkey's Christian minority,” she wrote.

Hoff maintained that Turkey's Christians have been left with four similarly stark choices. They can face exile or keep their longstanding third-class status. They may also fight back against that status or recognise conversion.

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