Azerbaijanis debate Hagia Sophia transformation into mosque on social media
The debate about Turkey’s recent decision to turn Hagia Sophia in Istanbul back into a mosque after being a museum for 86 years continues to rage on social media. Most condemn the decision, although there are those who support it as well.
The Hagia Sophia was built in Constantinople in 537. At first it was an Orthodox church, then a mosque.
On November 14, 1934, the Ataturk government decided to change the status of Hagia Sophia for a third time, turning the mosque into a museum.
On July 10, 2020, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed a decision to repeal that decree.
Starting July 24, Hagia Sophia will open once again as a mosque. The call to prayer has already sounded inside its halls, and prayers take place in front of the temple every day, with hundreds in attendance.
Azerbaijan has not officially expressed its opinion on the decision to abolish the Ataturk government decree of 1934. This cannot be said about the Azerbaijani public, however, amongst which a fiery debate has broken out.
Overall, the public opinion is practically unanimous — most people condemn the decision to turn the museum into a mosque.
The famous Azerbaijani historian Altay Goyushov, who now lives in Germany, said:
“You can declare the Hagia Sophia a mosque four times over – it’s useless. When it was built, it was the most famous orthodox church in the world. In the 15th century, the temple was declared a mosque based on the rules of its time. In the 1930s, also based on the progressive, modernist trends of the time, turning it into a museum was an appropriate decision.
“Nowadays, turning a museum into a church would be a progressive step. This would bring great respect and gratitude to Turkey. Turkey’s opponents would have much less to say against them.
“Or, they could just maintain its status as a museum and not cause so much excitement for no reason.
“Even though they have once again turned the temple into a mosque, it is impossible to change the fact of the Hagia Sophia was built as an Orthodox church. But this move was a powerful blow to the authority of Turkey and Islam around the world. And now, Turkey’s opponents have even more to say against them.”
Popular radio host Aziza Ismailova posted:
“Aya Sofya has become a mosque. I never had the chance to visit it as a museum. ”
The famous blogger Namiq Mammadov jokes:
“Well, there is a silver lining – now the Hagia Sophia will have free admission.”
Though few and far between, there are some posts whose authors can barely contain their joy about the situation.
Elnur Aliyev, a famous blogger among Azerbaijani conservatives, said:
“Congratulations, Turkey! May Allah be with us.”
There are also users who do not understand the uproar among Azerbaijanis surrounding the events around Haga Sofya. In their opinion, it would be better for them to pay more attention to the condition of churches within Azerbaijan itself.
“It is strange to read comments from people who lament over Hagia Sophia. Have you seen the condition of the ancient Albanian church in Gakh? The Ministry of Culture does not even know about it. And we have many churches like this,”
writes the famous journalist, editor of one of the Azerbaijani news sites Gunay Arda.