TURKEY - Hagia Sofia Now a Mosque Again

Arno Froese

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that the Hagia Sophia, one of the architectural wonders of the world, would be reopened for Muslim worship as a mosque, sparking fury in the Christian community and neighboring Greece.

His declaration came after a top Turkish court revoked the sixth-century Byzantine monument’s status as a museum, clearing the way for it to be turned back into a mosque.

“Like all our mosques, the doors of Hagia Sophia will be wide open to locals and foreigners, Muslims and non-Muslims,” he said.

The UNESCO World Heritage site in historic Istanbul, a magnet for tourists worldwide, was first constructed as a cathedral in the Christian Byzantine Empire but was converted into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453.

“Greece condemns most firmly” the decision, said Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, saying it “does not only impact relations between Greece and Turkey but also the latter’s relations with the European Union, UNESCO and the global community as a whole.”

For Greek Culture Minister Lina Mendoni, “the nationalism displayed by Erdogan... takes his country back six centuries.”

The Russian Orthodox Church was equally scathing.

“The concerns of millions of Christians were not heard,” Church spokesman Vladimir Legoida told Interfax news agency.

UNESCO chief Audrey Azoulay said she “deeply regrets” the decision made without prior dialogue with the UN’s cultural agency.

Erdogan urged everyone to respect Turkey’s decision and said the issue of what purposes Hagia Sophia would serve “concerns Turkey’s sovereign rights.”

Hagia Sophia, which stands opposite the impressive Sultanahmet Mosque—often called the Blue Mosque—has been a museum since 1935 and open to believers of all faiths.

“It’s been a dream since we were kids,” said Erdal Gencler, an Istanbul resident.

“(Hagia Sophia) finds its true purpose again. We are very excited, proud, and hopeful that there will be beautiful services here,” he added.

Fatma, a woman with tears in her eyes, said: “Of course I am crying. (Hagia Sophia) belongs to us.”

-news.yahoo.com, 10 July 2020

Arno's commentary

National religion and patriotism are twins; they refuse to listen to reason and voices of other nations or religious groups. The bottom line is always the same: we are right, they are wrong.

Turkey has a population of over 82 million people. Being 99.8% Sunni Muslim, the country seems solidly united and in appreciation of this decision by President Erdogan.

As a side note, this is a beneficial development for Israel, who now can change the status quo of various buildings, monuments, and parcels of land. Of course, the difference between Turkey and Israel—and the rest of the world—is that Turkey does not have, nor does any other nation, the promise given to Israel exclusively. 

It is of interest that the exalted Lord’s message to the seven churches, is directed geographically to what is now Turkey. Today, less than 0.2% of its population are considered Christians or Jews. Nevertheless, Turkey’s relationship to Europe is rather strong. The country was first to become a member of the Council of Europe in 1949, and an associate member of the West European Union in 1992. In 1987, Turkey applied for membership to the then European Economic Community, and in 1997 became eligible to join the EU. But Europe is strongly divided on whether to accept Turkey into the EU; the majority says they are not located in Europe, nor are they a Christian nation. Yet, it is our assumption that sooner or later Turkey will be part of an expanded EU.

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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