The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 Friday, October 30, 2020


Museum or mosque? Top Turkey court to rule on Hagia Sophia
This picture taken on July 2, 2020 shows the Hagia Sophia museum in Istanbul. Turkey's top court considered whether Istanbul's emblematic landmark and former cathedral Hagia Sophia can be redesignated as a mosque, a ruling which could inflame tensions with the West. Ozan KOSE / AFP.

by Gokan Gunes with Raziye Akkoc in Ankara



ISTANBUL (AFP).- Turkey's top court considered Thursday whether Istanbul's emblematic landmark and former cathedral Hagia Sophia can be redesignated as a mosque, a ruling which could inflame tensions with the West.

The Council of State was looking at a case brought by a Turkish NGO, the Association for the Protection of Historic Monuments and the Environment, during a short hearing.

It will announce its decision on the fate of the UNESCO World Heritage site within 15 days, state broadcaster TRT reported.

The sixth-century edifice -- a magnet for tourists worldwide with its stunning architecture -- has been a museum since 1935, open to believers of all faiths.

Despite occasional protests outside the site by Islamic groups, often shouting, "Let the chains break and open Hagia Sophia" for Muslim prayers, authorities have so far kept the building as a museum.

Hagia Sophia was first constructed as a cathedral in the Christian Byzantine Empire in the sixth century but was converted into a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453.

Transforming it into a museum was a key reform of the post-Ottoman authorities under the modern republic's founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

But calls for it to serve again as a mosque have sparked anger among Christians and tensions between historic foes and uneasy NATO allies Turkey and Greece.

Since 2005, there have been several attempts to change the building's status. In 2018, the Constitutional Court rejected one application.

During the hearing Thursday, the prosecutor called for the latest case to be dismissed, arguing the decision to alter the Hagia Sophia's status "is a matter for the Council of Ministers and the Presidency," the official Anadolu news agency said.

'High-profile symbol'
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan however said last month the decision was for Turkey's highest administrative court -- known as the Danistay -- adding: "The necessary steps will be taken following the verdict."

But Erdogan also said last year it had been a "very big mistake" to convert the Hagia Sophia into a museum.

"The Danistay decision will likely be a political one. Whatever the outcome, it will be a result of the government's deliberation," said Asli Aydintasbas, fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

But she said the government will weigh several issues, including relations with Greece, Europe and with the US where "religion is an important matter".




Anthony Skinner of the risk assessment firm Verisk Maplecroft said converting Hagia Sophia into a mosque would "kill at least two birds with one stone" for Erdogan -- he would cater to his Islamic and nationalist base, and sustain if not exacerbate tensions with Greece, while seeking to cast Turkey as a formidable power.

"Erdogan could not find a more high-profile and potent symbol than Hagia Sophia to achieve all these goals at once," Skinner told AFP.

The Turkish leader has in recent years placed great emphasis on the battles which resulted in the defeat of Byzantium by the Ottomans, with lavish celebrations held every year to mark the conquest.

Muslim clerics have occasionally recited prayers in the museum on key anniversaries or religious holidays.

Turks divided
Greece closely follows what happens to the Byzantine heritage in Turkey and is sensitive to the issue as it sees itself as the modern successor to Orthodox Christian Byzantium.

Greek Culture Minister Lina Mendoni, who sent a letter of protest to UNESCO last week, said the move "rekindles national and religious fanaticism" and is an attempt to "diminish the monument's global radiance".

She accused Turkey of using the monument "to serve internal political interests," arguing that only UNESCO had the authority to change Hagia Sophia's status.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday urged Turkey to keep Hagia Sophia as a museum, and to ensure it remains accessible to all.

Turks are divided over its status.

Istanbul shoemaker Mahmut Karagoz, 55, said he dreams he can one day pray under the dome of Hagia Sophia.

"It is a legacy by our Ottoman ancestors. I hope our prayers will be heard, this nostalgia must come to an end," he told AFP.

However economics student Sena Yildiz said she believes Hagia Sophia should stay as a museum.

"It is an important place for Muslims, but also for Christians and for all those who love history," she said.


© Agence France-Presse










Today's News

July 3, 2020

Exhibition looks at the different roles and functions of art in domestic spaces

Egypt reopens pyramids to tourists after virus closure

Bruce Silverstein Gallery welcomes The Bill Cunningham Foundation

The best art in town - and open to all: Top ten works at London Art Week Digital, 3-10 July

New York City cuts arts spending by 11% to close budget gap

Pallant House Gallery acquires paintings of first gay kiss in British theatre

Fang-Betsi Ancestor Head leads $16 million Clyman Collection of African and Contemporary Art at Sotheby's in New York

Tate to reopen all its galleries on 27 July

Newfields transfers hundreds of Dines Carlsen drawings to the National Nordic Museum

Museum or mosque? Top Turkey court to rule on Hagia Sophia

Stephen Friedman Gallery presents a new installation by British artist Jonathan Baldock

Only known drawing of extinct giant sloth lemur found in cave

Cultural life is back in Europe. In the U.K., they talk of collapse.

V&A virtual exhibition using gaming technology launched for Prix Pictet

'A conflicted cultural force': What it's like to be black in publishing

Wysing Arts Centre launches an interactive digital platform for new commissions and live events

The exhibition Pär Engsheden and Sara Danius's Nobel gowns opens at Nationalmuseum

Colnaghi reopens with "The Golden Age of Spanish Modern Art"

Toledo Museum of Art acquires major new work by contemporary artist Bisa Butler

Pace opens its temporary gallery space in East Hampton with works by Yoshitomo Nara

New York graffiti artists showcased in French chateau

Freddy Cole, performer who emerged from Nat's shadow, dies at 88

Literary illustrations from children's classics shine in Illustration Art at Swann July 16

New York City's gift of motion: A 1970s tale

Essential Equipment for a Traveling Photographer

Slow internet speed effects online gaming in Malaysia





Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 



Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

sa gaming free credit

Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org avemariasound.org juncodelavega.com facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful