The originally Christian cathedral is a popular tourist attraction in Istanbul. The idea of turning it into a mosque comes from President Erdogan. Religion is an important theme for the Turkish President.
“This decision is all about identity,” said Turkey correspondent Olaf Koens. “Erdogan has been calling for years that he wants to make Hagia Sophia a mosque again. He sees the building as something that the Turks have conquered and therefore belongs to them. His plan is particularly popular with his Islamist constituencies.”
Hagia Sophia was built as a cathedral in the sixth century and has long been considered the center of the Orthodox Christian world. Around 1500 the church was turned into a mosque. Many mosques, also in the Netherlands, are built after the example of Hagia Sophia.
And also in Turkey itself not everyone is happy with it. Koens: “About half of Turkey does not think this is necessary at all. Moreover, Erdogan’s decision rejects the ideas of Atatürk, the founder of the republic of Turkey.”