The empire strikes back…


Sultan Tayyip has reclaimed the Byzantine cathedral of Haggia Sophia for the Ottoman Empire by having a court cancel the Ataturk era decree that made it a museum.

We have often insisted here that Erdogan is a neo-Ottoman who dreams of recovering the empire's lost lands.  So far he has eaten a considerable part of Syria without IMO any intention of restoring any of it to Syria.

He has moved on to Libya, another lost province or set of provinces.  Where next?

When I lived in turkey I went once to Aya Sofya with a Greek colonel from the headquarter I worked in.   His demeanor changed completely when we entered the building.  He struggled to maintain his composure but it was hard for him.  pl

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26 Responses to The empire strikes back…

  1. Ishmail Zechariah says:

    re: “Erdogan is a neo-Ottoman who dreams of recovering the empire’s lost lands”
    The issue might be more nuanced. tayyip-the-lesser is an opportunist populist who is playing the Ottoman card to try and secure the next election. Over the years he has been many things: an islamist, a federalist, a democrat, a Turkish nationalist, an ottomanist…He got his ass handed to him in the last set of municipal elections and is now running scared.
    I hate to quote this rag but it might help some here:
    It is also fun to see how the izzies turned on him:
    These and their camp followers were great promoters of “mild islam” in times past.
    Ishmail Zechariah

  2. turcopolier says:

    All of that does not preclude his central Ottoman delusion.

  3. Leith says:

    First prayers at the Hagia Sophia will be held on 24 July. That is a big chunk of symbolism as that happens to be the anniversary of the signing of the Lausanne Treaty when Turkey gave up all claims to the remainder of the Ottoman Empire. Although some are claiming first prayers will be on 16 July, anniversary of the failed coup against Erdodog. Both sides in that argument neglect to mention that one wing of the (former) museum has been open to Muslim prayer for years.
    Will it be restricted to Sunnis? Or will Alevis, Jafaris, Alawites, and others be welcome; or would they even want to pray there?
    I read somewhere that Ataturk was going to tear down the four minarets but was told that doing so might weaken the dome.

  4. Leith says:

    IZ –
    The reason the izzies turned on him is because in his speech today he said: “The resurrection of #HagiaSophia is the harbinger of Al-Aqsa’s attainment of freedom.”

  5. kodlu says:

    I agree with Ishmail Zechariah, in fact it was one step he never took when he was much stronger and the country’s economics was in much better shape. He is somewhat desperately playing a major card which he held close to his sleeve.
    As for his neo-ottoman dreams, they are not realizable in any form that he’d count as success.
    While keeping in mind that there is rivalry between the Patriarchate in Istanbul, and the Russian Orthodox church, the Russian reaction was still quite nuanced: “Turkey’s internal affair”.

  6. Clueless Joe says:

    Whether this is a move due to weakness, hubris or whatever else is of little interest here. The real concern is: is there any chance another government will go back on this move in the near future? And frankly, I seriously doubt any future Turkish government would close it down as a mosque and allow it to go back to being a monument and a museum – you’d have to be as powerful and influential as Ataturk to be able to pull it off. That’s the real shame and damage with this decision.
    But still, deep down, this is just another proof that the real mistake had been done way before. It’s becoming patently obvious that UK and France were treacherous scumbags in the Crimean War and sided with the wrong country. This (and plenty of other current issues in the Levant and Middle-East) wouldn’t be a problem, had they been smart and honest enough to ally with Russia then.

  7. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    re:“The reason the izzies turned on him is because in his speech today he said: “The resurrection of #HagiaSophia is the harbinger of Al-Aqsa’s attainment of freedom.””
    The izzies had turned on him long ago, long before even the “Mavi Marmara” affair. At one point tayyip was styling himself a key leader of the “New Middle East” (as defined by Condolezza Rice). We consider tayyip a ziocon operation gone wrong.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  8. blum says:

    While keeping in mind that there is rivalry between the Patriarchate in Istanbul, and the Russian Orthodox church, the Russian reaction was still quite nuanced: “Turkey’s internal affair”.
    Posted by: kodlu | 11 July 2020 at 12:17 AM

    I guess, I would side with Greece on a somewhat enlarged ecumenical argument. Why can’t the Hagia Sophia be both a place of prayer and a tourist magnet, including a museum documenting its history.
    Notre Dame is(was, will be again) both somewhat?
    Ah well yes, the clash of civilizations now and then.
    These and their camp followers were great promoters of “mild islam” in times past.
    Ishmail Zechariah
    Posted by: Ishmail Zechariah | 10 July 2020 at 10:42 PM

    I may have shared sympathy traits with those (?) camps. Full discovery, meaning: I had quite a bit of sympathy for Erdo the not yet Neo-Ottoman in Davos. 😉

  9. J says:

    You may not be aware of it, but back around the 16 of June, as Turkish officials were awaiting the court hearing on the possibility of converting the world-famous Agia Sophia Museum back into a mosque, preparations for the change before hand were reportedly already underway.
    In this vein, the leader of the Saadet Partisi Islamist political party, Abdullah Sevim, called for Turkey to immediately take action and paint over the faces of the Seraphim in the dome of the 6th-century Orthodox Cathedral-turned-mosque-turned-museum.
    “There’s no need to wait for the decision of the State Council. We’ve already purchased the lime,” Sevim wrote on his Twitter page, calling everyone to join in a Muslim prayer to be held at Agia Sophia by President Erdogan.
    Other preparations towards converting it into a mosque were underway. According to Turkish historian and writer Ahmet Anapali, more than 75,000 sq. ft. worth of carpets used in Islamic prayers were already purchased, paid for by a private individual, this according to reports in the Turkish newspaper Yeni Akit Gazetesi.
    The carpets are purple, the color of the time of Mehmet the Conqueror.
    “It is the desire of all of us to break the chains of Agia Sophia by opening it to Muslim prayer. This was the wish of Sultan Mehmet,” Turkish Minister of Justice Abdulhamit Gül also said.
    While Turkish officials proclaimed that Agia Sophia is on their territory and they can do with it as they please, UNESCO General Director Audrey Azoulay made it clear that the international organization is keeping a close eye on developments in Turkey.
    Agia Sophia has been included as a UNESCO World Heritage site as a museum since 1985. As Azoulay explains, a change in status to the monument requires UNESCO’s permission.
    Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to insist on preserving Agia Sophia as a multi-religious monument. The Holy Synod of the Church of Greece also earlier called for Turkey to respect the monument and preserve its museum status.

  10. J says:

    Here is a picture of the Seraphim that the Turks wanted to destroy

  11. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    Colonel, SST;
    Just before the municipal elections in which his party suffered a colossal defeat tayyip was singing a very different tune on this same topic:
    “Opening Hagia Sophia has a cost. Those who want Hagia Sophia to be opened [for worship], do they ever think what would happen to our mosques abroad? As a political leader, I have not so much lost my direction as to get played into this,”
    His own party placed the blame for their rout squarely on tayyip. Their prospects for the upcoming election are not good. Hence this current gambit. It has a low chance of success. Turkey is in for a rough time.
    As far as tayyips aspirations of being a “sultan” the following two links are indicative of his “power”:
    No one kept Ataturk waiting.
    A prime example of an ass trying to ride an improperly indoctrinated hoss.
    BTW, it was the 5th column:”idiot intellectuals” of Turkey, whose starry notions about “democracy” facilitated tayyip’s accession to power and help keep him there. he reciprocated by jailing a lot of them. There might be some parallels w/ the current situation in the USA.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  12. Leith says:

    IZ –
    Izzie PM & Likud Party Chairman Nutsandyahoo personally called the Turkish Presidential Palace to apologize for Mavi Marmara. And he spent the next two to three years kissing Erdodag’s butt before finally negotiating their formal Reconciliation Agreement in 2016. In my opinion Turkey’s AKP party and the izzies Likud party are identical to each other, maybe under a different name and different religion but with the same goals.
    In any case I do not believe that reverting Ayasofia to a Mosque is just a vote getting ploy. It also buys Erdo a lot of goodwill throughout much of the Muslim world. It will produce some internal opposition to el-Sisi and MBZ who are bankrolling the LNA fighting against him in Libya. As for Erdo’s neo-Ottoman dreams, Turkish military presence in northern Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, & Qatar speaks for itself.

  13. JohnH says:

    Mosque or church…it doesn’t really matter. Haggia Sophia is first and foremost a gigantic tourist trap, totally secular.

  14. rho says:

    have a look at this statement about Hagia Sophia in Arabic language (!) from Erdogan’s Facebook page:
    It sounds like his expansionist ambitions extend further than just to areas that were at one time Ottoman provinces.

  15. Babak makkinejad says:

    Not true.
    As a mosque, it would be free to enter.
    Just like the Blue Mosque.
    This is a religious act, negating the prior secularist action of Ataturk.

  16. Babak makkinejad says:

    Arabs will not welcome Turks back to be their rulers.
    We are living a historical moment where religious sentiment, to satisfy an unsatisfied spiritual hunger, is rising, and not just among Muslims.
    JI see it in the rise of Old Testament Protestanism in the WASP Culture Continent, and the
    attendant religious war.
    I see it in the rise of Hindu Religiosity, which, in ripeness of time, will destroy the Indian Union.
    I see it in Putin’s Russia, reverting back to being an Orthodox state – and civilization.
    41 years ago, Iran re-introduced God back into History and consequently the secularism of the European
    Enlightenment Traditition, went into decline.
    Erdogan’s Turkey is conforming to the same global pattern, in my opinion. And not because of him; like Stalin said: ” Cadres decide Everything.”

  17. J says:

    John H,
    It matters to a lot people, tourist trap or not. It matters to those of the Orthodox faith (Greek, Russian, Serb, etc.)

  18. JerseyJeffersonian says:

    When the news of the fall of Constantinople reached the Ducal Court of Burgundy, the great late medieval/early renaissance composer, Guillaume Dufay, wrote this lamentation of the event:
    If you click on the arrow in the title information area, you will find the original text, along with a rendering into English.
    The full scale petulant desecration of Hagia Sofia proposed by these scum will not go down easy, at least in the Orthodox world, and certainly not with me. It will only serve to reinforce the long-remembered occupations of and abuses against Christian Europe by the Turks and other muslim invaders.

  19. JerseyJeffersonian says:

    Perhaps your Greek friend with whom you visited Hagia Sophia carried this song in his heart and mind:

  20. Babak makkinejad says:

    Jesrsey Jeffersonian
    Catholic Church and Potentates did nothing to strengthen Eastern Roman Empire.
    Did someone in the West write a lamentation for the Sack of Constantinople by the Catholic Crusaders?
    I doubt it.

  21. turcopolier says:

    The Venetian subverted 4th Crusade did that and it was IMO criminal. In contrast the 1st Crusade destroyed Seljuk power at Dorylaeum on the road to Jerusalem.

  22. Leith says:

    Babak –
    By the time those crusaders sacked Constantinople they had been excommunicated by Pope Innocent the Third for sacking the Catholic city of Zadar Croatia. So technically they were no longer themselves Catholic. He also threw their Venetian enablers out of the church.

  23. Leith says:

    Jersey Jeffersonian –
    ‘Scum’ is a bit harsh. Unless of course you are speaking of Erdogan himself.
    But speaking of the occupation of Europe that you mention. I don’t think there were any ‘forced’ religious conversions. Although perhaps the Ottomans should have used some coercion. If they had then maybe the 500-year long reconquest of southeastern Europe never would have happened. Ditto for the Reconquista of Spain and Portugal which took almost 800 years.


    My point was that there is no extant piece of music – not even a Mass – for the dead of Constantinople at the hands of the Crusaders.
    Not among the Orthodox, and not among the Western Christians.
    Another case of selective amnesia.
    Did any English composer ever write a piece of music for the Harrowing?
    I do not think so – the Norma ruling class in England would never have tolerated it.
    So, here we are, an internal affair of Turkey is elevated to a trans-religious importance – back to the perennial struggle between Christianity and Islam, it seems to me.

  25. J says:

    I have to disagree with your it’s an internal affair of Turkey, it is not. It was of trans-religious importance long before this latest by Erdogan.
    I do however agree with you that religious sentiment is rising all around the globe among all faiths and creeds.
    It would be great if we all could just get along, but humanity being what it is, we have to fight over dogma and everything else that can be thought of.
    It’s going to take the force of Heaven to bring everybody in line, when that time comes.

  26. J says:

    This release 8 hours ago from the Russian Orthodox Church regarding Turkey’s ill thought out actions.
    “The Holy Synod of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow expresses deep regret in connection with the decision of the state leadership of Turkey to deprive the Church of Agia Sophia of its museum status and to transfer it to the worshipful usage of the Muslim community.
    The aforesaid decision was made without account of the petitions and clearly expressed position of the primates and hierarchs of the Local Orthodox Churches, representatives of foreign states, numerous international public and human rights organizations, and clergy of various confession and religious traditions. It offends the religious sensibilities of millions of Christians throughout the world, which could lead to a disruption in the inter-religious balance and mutual understanding between Christians and Muslims, not only in Turkey itself, but also in other places.
    At a time when Christianity is a persecuted religion in many places on the planet, when the exodus of Christians from the countries of the Middle East continues, this decision of the Turkish authorities brings a special pain. The Church of Agia Sophia was built in honor of Christ the Savior, and it continues to be a church in the consciousness of millions of Christians. This church has a special historical and spiritual significance for the Orthodox Church.
    Addressing the fraternal Local Churches, we note with particular sadness that the Orthodox world disjointedly faces events today that are so joyless for the Orthodox Church, which is a direct result of the anti-canonical legalization of the schism in Ukraine and which weakened our ability to jointly confront new spiritual threats and civilizational challenges. Now, in an era of increasing Christianophobia and increased pressure on the Church from secular society, unity is more important than ever before. We call upon the fraternal Local Churches to work together in the spirit of peace and love of Christ to find a way out of this crisis.
    We hope that the Turkish authorities will make the necessary efforts to preserve the priceless miraculously-surviving Christian mosaics and will provide access to them for Christian pilgrims.
    Expressing hope for the further preservation and strengthening of mutual respect and mutual understanding between believers of various world religions, we also appeal to the world community to provide all possible assistance in preserving the special status of the Church of Agia Sophia, of everlasting importance for all Christians.”
    End quote.

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