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Christendom’s Greatest Cathedral to Become a Mosque

Turkey is reclaiming its jihadi past, while Europe is simultaneously erasing its own Christian heritage.

by
Raymond Ibrahim

Bio

June 18, 2013 - 12:00 am
hagia_sophia_large_6-11-13-1

The Hagia Sophia at night.

While unrest in Turkey continues to capture attention, more subtle and more telling events concerning the Islamification of Turkey — and not just at the hands of Prime Minister Erdogan but majorities of Turks — are quietly transpiring. These include the fact that Turkey’s Hagia Sophia museum is on its way to becoming a mosque.

Why does the fate of an old building matter?

Because Hagia Sophia — Greek for “Holy Wisdom” — was for some thousand years Christianity’s greatest cathedral. Built in 537 A.D. in Constantinople, the heart of the Christian empire, it was also a stalwart symbol of defiance against an ever encroaching Islam from the east.

After parrying centuries of jihadi thrusts, Constantinople was finally sacked by Ottoman Turks in 1453. Its crosses desecrated and icons defaced, Hagia Sophia — as well as thousands of other churches — was immediately converted into a mosque, the tall minarets of Islam surrounding it in triumph.

Then, after the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, as part of several reforms, secularist Ataturk transformed Hagia Sophia into a “neutral” museum in 1934 — a gesture of goodwill to a then-triumphant West from a then-crestfallen Turkey.

Thus the fate of this ancient building is full of portents. And according to Hurriyet Daily News, “A parliamentary commission is considering an application by citizens to turn the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul into a mosque…. A survey conducted with 401 people was attached to the application, in which more than 97 percent of interviewees requested the transformation of the ancient building into a mosque and afterwards for it to be reopened for Muslim worship.”

Even lesser known is the fact that other historic churches are currently being transformed into mosques, such as a 13th century church building — portentously also named Hagia Sophia — in Trabzon. After the Islamic conquest, it was turned into a mosque. But because of its “great historical and cultural significance” for Christians, it too, during Turkey’s secular age, was turned into a museum and its frescoes restored. Yet local authorities recently decreed that its Christian frescoes would again be covered and the church/museum turned into a mosque.

Similarly, the 5th century Studios Monastery, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, is set to become an active mosque. And the existence of the oldest functioning Christian monastery in the world, 5th century Mor Gabriel Monastery, is at risk. Inhabited today by only a few dozen Christians dedicated to learning the monastery’s teachings, the ancient Aramaic language spoken by Jesus, and the Orthodox Syriac tradition, neighboring Muslims filed a lawsuit accusing the monks of practicing “anti-Turkish activities” and of illegally occupying land which belongs to Muslim villagers. The highest appeals court in Ankara ruled in favor of the Muslim villagers, saying the land that had been part of the monastery for 1,600 years is not its property, absurdly claiming that the monastery was built over the ruins of a mosque — even though Muhammad was born 170 years after the monastery was built.

Turkey’s Christian minority, including the Orthodox Patriarch, are naturally protesting this renewed Islamic onslaught against what remains of their cultural heritage — to deaf ears.

The Muslim populace’s role in transforming once Christian sites into mosques is a reminder of all those other Turks not protesting the Islamization of Turkey, and who if anything consider Erdogan’s government too “secular.”

Their numbers are telling. In May 2012, Reuters reported that:

Thousands of devout Muslims prayed outside Turkey’s historic Hagia Sophia museum on Saturday [May 23] to protest a 1934 law that bars religious services at the former church and mosque. Worshippers shouted, “Break the chains, let Hagia Sophia Mosque open,” and “God is great” [the notorious “Allahu Akbar”] before kneeling in prayer as tourists looked on. Turkey’s secular laws prevent Muslims and Christians from formal worship within the 6th-century monument, the world’s greatest cathedral for almost a millennium before invading Ottomans converted it into a mosque in the 15th century.

The desire to turn Hagia Sophia into a mosque is not about Muslims wanting a place to pray — as of 2010, there were 3,000 active mosques in Istanbul alone. Rather, it’s about their reveling, and trying to revivify, the glory days of Islamic jihad and conquest: Reuters added that Muslims “staged the prayers ahead of celebrations next week marking the 559th anniversary of the Ottoman Sultan Mehmet’s conquest of Byzantine Constantinople.” According to Salih Turhan, a spokesman quoted by Reuters, “As the grandchildren of Mehmet the Conqueror, seeking the re-opening Hagia Sophia as a mosque is our legitimate right.”

Sultan Mehmet was the scourge of European Christendom, whose Islamic hordes seized and ravished Constantinople, forcibly turning it Islamic. Openly idolizing him, as many Turks do, is tantamount to their saying, “We are proud of our ancestors who killed and stole the lands of European Christians.” And yet, despite such militant overtones, Turhan, whose position is echoed by many Turks, still manages to blame the West: “Keeping Hagia Sophia Mosque closed is an insult to our mostly Muslim population of 75 million. It symbolizes our ill-treatment by the West.”

So keeping a historically Christian/Western building — that was stolen by Islamic jihad — as a neutral museum is seen as “ill-treatment by the West,” even as Turks continue destroying the nation’s original Christian heritage.

And the historical revisions continue. Last May 29th, when Turks celebrate the Fall of Constantinople, Erdogan himself declared that the jihadi invasion — which saw countless Christians enslaved, raped, or slaughtered — was the true “time of enlightenment.”  After showing how Erdogan got it upside down, Ralph Sidway, an Orthodox Christian author, wrote:

Erdogan and Turkey celebrate the Fall of Constantinople, and the West congratulates them. “We are continuing to write history today,” says Erdogan, and write it  –  or re-write it  –  they do, under the somnambulant gaze of craven Western leaders too ignorant, or too fearful, to challenge Islam’s claim to moral superiority, historical righteousness and eventual world domination. By their policies, posture and pronouncements, Western European nations, and the United States, are conceding the future to a rapidly re-Islamicizing Turkey, and are aiding in Islam’s stated goal of a new, global caliphate determined to conquer us, just as it conquered Constantinople 560 years ago. Every Turkish celebration of 29 May 1453 is a gauntlet flung down in challenge to the West. Each such event which goes unanswered and unchallenged by the West is another nail in the coffin of Christian culture, human rights, and free people everywhere.

Indeed, at a time when Turkey is openly reclaiming its jihadi heritage, Europeans are actively erasing their Christian heritage which for centuries kept the Islamic jihad at bay. Among other capitulations, Europeans are currently betraying church buildings to Muslims to convert to mosques and scrubbing references of the historic Turkish jihads against Europe from classroom textbooks, lest Muslim students be offended.

Meanwhile, here are neighboring Turkey’s Muslims openly praising the same jihadi warlords who brutally conquered a portion of Europe centuries ago, converting thousands of churches into mosques, even as they openly prepare to finish the job — which may not even require force, as Europe actively sells its own soul.

(Artwork by Shutterstock.com.)

Raymond Ibrahim, a Middle East and Islam specialist, is author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (2013) and The Al Qaeda Reader (2007). His writings have appeared in a variety of media, including the Los Angeles Times, Washington Times, Jane’s Islamic Affairs Analyst, Middle East Quarterly, World Almanac of Islamism, and Chronicle of Higher Education; he has appeared on MSNBC, Fox News, C-SPAN, PBS, Reuters, Al-Jazeera, NPR, Blaze TV, and CBN. Ibrahim regularly speaks publicly, briefs governmental agencies, provides expert testimony for Islam-related lawsuits, and testifies before Congress. He is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum, and a Media Fellow at the Hoover Institution, 2013. Ibrahim’s dual-background -- born and raised in the U.S. by Coptic Egyptian parents born and raised in the Middle East -- has provided him with unique advantages, from equal fluency in English and Arabic, to an equal understanding of the Western and Middle Eastern mindsets, positioning him to explain the latter to the former.

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Top Rated Comments   
Hagia Sophia is beautiful architecture and an important church in old Christendom, it hardly holds a place of heartfelt holiness to most Christians anywhere because was a mosque for centuries.

Of far more concern should be the Cordoba Cathedral. Originally built as a Christian church, Spain conquering Muslims transformed it into a mosque for about 800 yrs. Spanish Christians took it back and returned the church to the cathedra. Recently, Muslims once again have asked/demanded to share the worship space to which the Bishopric has refused again.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
We -all who are not Muslim- did not want a religious war with militant Islam, but Muslims gave us one, so perhaps we should man up and accept that as now given. We are in a global religious war of their making. The only way they can win is if we let them.

Bin Laden spoke of the Tragedy of Iberia, in which after seven centuries the people of Spain took their country back from the invaders. So, isn't it time we start speaking of the Tragedy of Anatolia, and take back Constantinople and all Anatolia from the conquerors?

Forget aspiring to always be on the defense: Defense is for those who wish to be conquered. Go on the offense.

Re-Conquer Constantinople and all Anatolia. Then let those who started this war go on the defense.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hagia Sophia has been a mosque for centuries. Get real.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (55)
All Comments   (55)
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Using their logic, the Temple Mount should be Jewish place of worship!
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
Western Europe never cared much about Muslim incursions into the Byzantine Empire other than incursions into The Levant. One can question whether the West cared more about the Holy sites there or the lucrative trade with the East centered there.

"Crusading" Franks sacked Constantinople including Hagia Sophia in 1204 in what turned out to be a blow from which the Byzantine Empire never recoverd. The originals of the bronze horses that adorn St. Mark's Cathedral in Venice once adorned the Hippodrome in Constantinople. There's a good argument that the wealth and talent spirited out of Constantinople and the remains of the Byzantine Empire is what spawned The Renaissance. Certainly it made the Venetians and others wealthy and powerful enough to resist Muslim piracy and most raiding in the Mediterranean and restore trade to a level that built a mercantile class in Europe that had been largely absent since Roman times.

Granted it hasn't been a Christian cathedral since 1453 and was a mosque for most of the time since then, but it is a powerful symbol and in today's "spring-like" climate, I would not be at all surprised if the Muslims destroyed the art if not the structure itself; they have been threatening to tear down the Pyramids of Egypt. And if you think they wouldn't like to turn St. Peter's and the Baptist Church down your street into mosques, you really don't understand Islam.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
Islam is an opportunistic infection.

Europe will succumb to Islam because it has abandoned the Christian faith. Take something away, and something else will come along to replace it. The Marxist schemers who manipulated the abandonment of Christianity had hoped that it would be their malignant ideology that would replace Christianity. Problem is, envy and nihilism don't inspire normal human beings. Religious faith does. So as Christianity has been chased away, another faith has come to take its place.

Try as I might, I can't quite get upset about this, because I know that the Muslims will quite literally exterminate the malignant leftists.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Muslims will quite literally exterminate the malignant leftists."

I wish. The Muslim factions are full of Marxists.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
...drip...drip...drip...drip...
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
If the Pope ain't worried then why should anyone else give two cents who's using the structure. I'm pretty sure the day the towel headed try to pray at St. Peters that things will hit the fan.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
News Flash: The Pope IS worried.

Please do keep up with the news, honey.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
The headline of this article should have gone something like "A famous building which hasn't been a church for over half a millenium (but HAS been a mosque for most of that time) may now be re-opened as a mosque because the people living there want it that way."

Really? That's what's getting you worked up?
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
There are no Christians left in Western Europe. Who needs churches?
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
It's a totalitarian political ideology dressed up in the trappings of a moon god worshipping deathcult. Islam delenda est.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
There are several Ottoman mosques in Hungary, for example, not to mention elsewhere in southeastern Europe (and Spain, as observed here) that are now churches. Where is your outrage, friends? Not to mention that there are several former synagogues in the United States that are also now churches. And churches I can think of that are now pizza parlors and offices. They're just buildings, folks.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm outraged that the barbarians were able to build the mosques in the first place. It is one thing if a congregations shrinks, dissolves, or merges and lets a church or synagogue go to some other use. It is quite another when a conquer takes a former church or synagogue and converts it to a mosque, defaces it, throws up defiant minarets around it, e.g. Hagia Sophia, or destroys it. Building their damned mosques or converting Christian and Jewish structures to mosques is the Muslim equivalent of a dog peeing on another dog's post.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
Why would I be outraged at invader buildings used like that in Hungary?
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
The West is finished as a civilization - Russia will be the last one standing in the next 100 years.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
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