Erdoğan trying to make himself "godfather of Turkey" by turning Hagia Sofia into Mosque

11 July 2020, 15:42

By Seán Hickey

As the Turkish President plans to turn the Hagia Sofia into a Mosque, Maajid Nawaz thought it was part of his plan to shape a legacy as a soft Islamist.

The Hagia Sofia was made a museum by the founder of the Turkish Republic Ataturk "to avoid precisely this kind of debate or defence" which the current Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has brought up.

The museum was once a Christian Church and remained so to prevent any tensions in Istanbul, which is the most religiously diverse city in Turkey.

Maajid argued that "the very least Erdoğan could have done would be to turn it into a Church with a small area as a Mosque" if he wanted to have an Islamic part of the building.

He undermined the Turkish President's plans as anti-Islamic because it says in the Quran that Churches or Synagogues should never be converted into Mosques. "It's what the religion of islam teaches from the beginning" he said.

"If it was a church, it should have stayed a church" Maajid said, questioning the hypocrisy of the move. "If you're upset with mosques in other countries being demolished," he wondered why the opposite is acceptable.

Turkish President Erdoğan announced plans to turn the Hagia Sofia into a Mosque
Turkish President Erdoğan announced plans to turn the Hagia Sofia into a Mosque. Picture: PA

Maajid argued that Mr Erdoğan is setting himself up to be "the new godfather of Turkey" and move out of the shadow of Ataturk by making such drastic cultural changes in the country.

"Erdoğan is a soft Islamist" Maajid said and felt as though his policies and plans to build a legacy are not only to "undermine everything Ataturk stood for" but also to "establish his credentials as the new godfather of Turkey" by taking up controversial projects such as this.