By Manolis Kostidis – Istanbul
The pro-Islam Turkish history magazine “Derin Tarih” heralds in its December edition, the function of Hagia Sophia as a mosque in 2014 and says its current operation as a museum is illegal.
It is striking, however, that a history magazine whose owners are supporters of the ruling party are promoting the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque, in line with the latest actions of the Erdogan government.
According to history professor Mehmet Celik, who writes in the magazine, “Hagia Sophia will become a mosque within 2014. Until today the people have many times expressed this request to Prime Ministers Menderes, Demirel and Ozal but their desired result never came. Hagia Sophia will open its doors as a mosque before the 2014 Presidential election”.
Celik also makes an odd proposal for “Agia Irini to operate in the same area in order to limit the reaction of the Patriarchate”.
The magazine also claims the operation of Hagia Sophia as a museum is illegal and says the cabinet decision allowing to be a museum in 1934 was never published in the Government Gazette.
It is important to see how the Hagia Sophia issue came into the political agenda in Turkey.
Fifteen days ago, government vice-president Bulent Arinc had proposed the re-conversion of Hagia Sophia of Istanbul which today operates as a museum into a mosque.
Arinc has said in the past that “it was accepted in Turkey for mosques to be turned into museums, however, now there is a different Turkey (…) We all face this innocent Hagia Sophia and hope its good days return soon”, he stressed.
In the last six months, two other churches named Hagia Sophia, one in Trabzon and one in Izmit, were turned into mosques setting a precedent for the same to happen with Agia Sophia of Istanbul too.