Sucker for conquest symbolism: Journalist slams Turkish President over conversion of Hagia Sophia to mosque

Bangladesh Live News | @banglalivenews | 25 Jul 2020

Ankara: The conversion of the iconic Hagia Sophia to a mosque is being seen by experts as country's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's attempt to wage a war on Islamophobia.

Journalist Kunwar Khuldune Shahid wrote in his article published in The Spectator: "Recep Tayyip Erdogan is a sucker for conquest symbolism. As Covid-19 restrictions were being eased this year, he ensured that mosques reopened on 29 May to coincide with the 567th anniversary of the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople."

"The Turkish president has now gone on to sign a decree converting Hagia Sophia into a mosque, just in time for the fourth anniversary of the failed coup against him, which symbolises his own conquest over Turkey’s military and judiciary," he said.

Shahid said: "For Erdogan, the conversion of Hagia Sophia – which he has described as a ‘souvenir’ from the Ottoman conquest – has been a lifelong aspiration. As a member of the Islamist Welfare Party (RP) in the 80s and 90s, and as mayor of Istanbul, his religionist ambitions have long included Hagia Sophia’s transformation."

Illustrating his deep sense of concern on Erdogan's motive behind converting the mosque, he said: "But it wasn’t until March 2019, following the anti-Muslim terror attack in Christchurch, and his own party’s poor showing in the polls ahead of local elections, that Erdogan made the conversion of Hagia Sophia a political rallying cry."

"As well as envisioning himself as the leader of the Muslim world – a modern day, pan-Islamist, Ottoman Sultan – Erdogan has also been waging a war on ‘Islamophobia’," he said.

Over the past couple of years, he has been joined in this particular battle by the prime minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan.

"The pair even launched an ‘anti-Islamophobia’ channel last year," the journalist said.

The journalist said: "While Erdogan was finalising the verdict on Hagia Sophia, Khan was busy succumbing to Islamist pressure, as the construction of Pakistan’s fist Hindu temple in Islamabad was halted in the courts. Those leading the Islamist uproar against the temple have included government affiliated clerics and those in Khan’s ruling coalition.

"An influential member of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), who are Khan’s political allies, cited Prophet Muhammad’s demolition of idols during the Conquest of Makkah to suggest that the Hindu temple’s construction would be blasphemy against the ‘Medina state’ – where Sharia laws are upheld."

Speaking on Imran Khan, he said: "Khan, who has repeatedly vowed to create an Islamic state, uses ‘Hindu nationalism’ as a slur to condemn the Indian ruling party, and questions India’s secularism, while leading a country where the S-word is taboo. Erdogan, meanwhile, has repeatedly accused Israel of destroying Jerusalem’s Islamic heritage while working to erase his own country’s Christian past."

In his article published in The Diplomat,  Kunwar Khuldune Shahid said: " Pakistan’s Hinduphobia is rooted in the paranoid Indian Muslim elite apprehensive about losing their political clout in the 1940s. It has been sustained by a similarly paranoid establishment xeroxing jihadists to create post-1971 strategic depth against India. The baton has now been passed on to a paranoid Imran Khan, willing to do whatever is necessary to cling on to power by the skin of his teeth."

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