Islamists unfurl their banners in Hagia Sophia in Istanbul

03.08.2020, Istanbul.

Taliban (organization banned in Russia) activists unfurled their banner inside Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, reports the Greek online publication Vima Orthodoxias on August 3.

According to the report, Taliban (an organization banned Russia) Islamists in Istanbul held their action in Hagia Sophia: they unfurled the movement’s banner, shouted “Allah Akbar”, and exhibited hand gesture widely used by Islamic terrorists (a raised index finger).

“Soon, pro ISIL (organization banned in Russia) activists will raise their flag too,” wrote Noor Dahri, a British expert on the issues of counter terrorism and Islamic extremism, in his Twitter account.

On July 10, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan signed a decree allowing Hagia Sophia Museum in Istanbul to be used as a mosque. Erdoğan’s decision drew criticism from church leaders and high-ranking diplomats. Since July 24, this temple has been open for round-the-clock Muslim prayer.


The Church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople (now Istanbul) was built by the Christian emperor Justinian I. in 537. For over a thousand years, this cathedral was the largest temple in the Christian world. On May 29, 1453, Constantinople was captured by the Ottoman Empire under Sultan Mehmet II, and the cathedral was turned into a mosque.

In 1934, Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the modern Turkish state, decreed to transform the building into a museum. In 1985 it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Since 2010, there have been increasing calls to convert the museum back into a mosque. In 2018, Turkish President Recep Erdoğan read a fragment from the Koran in the museum, and in 2019 supported the idea of ​​transformation.

On May 29, 2020, during the celebration of the 567th anniversary of the conquest, Erdoğan read a fragment from the Koran about the conquest in the cathedral. A public perfomance decorated with historical themes was held in front of the cathedral on this day.

Greece made a public statement expressing the view that this action insults the international community and challenges the religious feelings of Christians around the world. In response, on May 30, the Turkish Foreign Ministry called on Greece to “free itself from its historical complexes.” On May 31, Erdoğan explained that it was about the conquest of Constantinople, and Turkey owns the cathedral “by the right of a conqueror.”

The Turkish Council of State had scheduled an official consideration on the issue of repealing the Atatürk decree for July 2. Turkish Foreign Ministry Mevlut Cavusoglu said that the status of the cathedral is a matter of Turkey’s national sovereignty, and Turkey’s rights to the cathedral are related to the fact that “Hagia Sophia became the property of the Ottomans.

The transformation plans have been condemned by a number of countries. In particular, it was pointed out that changing the status of a World Heritage site is impossible without the consent of UNESCO. It was claimed that the change in status would sow religious enmity between Christians and Muslims. On June 30, researchers of Byzantine and Ottoman culture drew up an open letter in which they substantiated their concern for the safety of the cathedral in the event of a change in its status and its transfer to the Directorate General of Foundations.

The decision of the Turkish Council of State was announced in two stages. On July 2, it was announced that Atatürk’s decree was legal, but the government could overturn it. It was reported, however, that the final decision will be announced later. On July 10 it became known that the 1934 decree was cancelled, and the mosque was the only possible use of the cathedral.

Source: Rossa Primavera News Agency

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