Turkey – Käßmann: “Erdogan’s political games are pitiful”

After the Hagia Sophia was turned into a mosque, Erdogan was massively criticized from the west. Theologian Margot Käßmann now accuses the Turkish president of not being particularly wise.

In the debate over the conversion of the Istanbul landmark Hagia Sophia into a mosque, the former President of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany, Margot Käßmann, criticized the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “The tactical political games of a president who wants to impress conservative Muslims are pitiful,” writes Käßmann in the “Bild am Sonntag”. “After 85 years, Hagia Sophia is used to demonstrate power and sow discord,” said the theologian. Erdogan’s description of the transformation as “resurrection” therefore considers it a “targeted provocation”.

“Sophia” is the Greek term for wisdom, continues Käßmann and notes: “Mr. Erdogan obviously doesn’t have much of that. A wise leader would want to reconcile and not split.” According to her own statement, the pastor is afraid that Hagia Sophia could become a symbol of exclusion. Erdogan is destroying “a symbol of the peaceful coexistence of Christianity and Islam”.

Construction in the 6th century

The Turkish Supreme Administrative Court revoked the status of Hagia Sophia as a museum on Friday a week ago. Shortly thereafter, Erdogan ordered the building to be opened as a mosque for Islamic prayer. Despite international criticism, preparations for such an opening have begun. From July 24, Hagia Sophia, which was a museum for 86 years, is to be used as a mosque.

The Hagia Sophia was built in the 6th century AD and was the main church of the Byzantine Empire, where the emperors were crowned. After the Ottomans conquered Constantinople in 1453, Sultan Mehmet II converted Hagia Sophia into a mosque.

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