President Erdogan of Turkey has made no secret of his desire to revive the Ottoman Empire and if possible, to crown himself the new sultan of it.
In response to the terrorist attacks in New Zealand, President Erdogan has spoken ominously about the Hagia Sophia, making recent statements reinforcing ones previously made, but now more aggressively, that speak to his desire to convert the Church, which was used as a mosque from 1453 until 1935 when it became a museum, back into a mosque as a part of his “asserting” Islam again according to a report:
It is within the bounds of possibility to change the legal status of the iconic Hagia Sophia Museum, a landmark of Istanbul and a UNESCO World Heritage site, to a mosque as it was before 1935, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on March 24.
“It is not an abnormal proposal. It is not something impossible, it could be done easily. We could even name it as the Hagia Sophia Mosque instead of a museum so that everybody can visit it without charge,” Erdoğan said during a live interview on a private broadcaster when asked whether the museum could be free of charge for Turkish citizens.
“Its status of museum could be stripped off. Actually that status was given by a step taken with the mentality of the [Republican People’s Party] CHP. We can take that step taken by the CHP mentality back,” he added, referring to the regulation adopted by the main opposition party in 1935.
Erdoğan also pointed to other historical mosques in Istanbul, such as the Blue (Sultanahmet) Mosque, which are open to all visitors and worshippers without charge.
Built in the 6th century by the East Roman Empire, Hagia Sophia served as the seat of the Greek Orthodox Church for 916 years and was converted into a mosque by Fatih Sultan Mehmet after the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul in 1453.