تحويل آيا صوفيا إلى مسجد.. التوتر يشوب العلاقات بين أنقرة وموسكو/Turkish court clears way to convert Hagia Sophia back to a mosque/Fifteen Centuries, Two Faiths and a Contested Fate for Hagia Sophia

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Hagia Sophia or Ayasofya, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, that was a Byzantine cathedral before being converted into a mosque which is currently a museum, is seen in Istanbul, Turkey, June 28, 2020. Picture taken June 28, 2020. Picture taken with a drone. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

Turkish court clears way to convert Hagia Sophia back to a mosque

Fifteen Centuries, Two Faiths and a Contested Fate for Hagia Sophia

تحويل آيا صوفيا إلى مسجد.. التوتر يشوب العلاقات بين أنقرة وموسكو
الحرة /10 يوليو 2020
أضفت خطوة إردوغان بتحويل آيا صوفيا إلى مسجد بعدا دينيا للعلاقة المتوترة ما بين أنقرة وموسكو. أضفت خطوة إردوغان بتحويل آيا صوفيا إلى مسجد بعدا دينيا للعلاقة المتوترة ما بين أنقرة وموسكو. عندما تم تحويل آيا صوفيا إلى مسجد للمرة الأولى، بعد فرض الإمبراطورية العثمانية سيطرتها على القسطنطينية عام 1453، اعتقد حكام موسكو أن نهاية الكاتدرائية الأرثوذكسية سيفتح الطريق أمام العاصمة الروسية لتصبح صاحبة المركز المرموق في العالم المسيحي.

وبعد أكثر من خمسة قرون على ذلك، أثار دعم الرئيس التركي رجب طيب إردوغان لحملة تحويل المبنى من متحف إلى مسجد مرة أخرى الغضب في موسكو، الأمر الذي أظهر شكوى جديدة في العلاقة الجيوسياسية التي نمت في السنوات الأخيرة، والتي تشوبها الخلافات أيضا، ما بين أنقرة وموسكو، وفقا لما نقلت صحيفة “فايننشال تايمز”. ووصف المسؤولون الروس مقترح تحويل المتحف إلى مسجد بأنه “انتهاك غير مقبول للحرية الدينية”.

ودعا متحدث باسم الرئيس الروسي فلاديمير بوتين الرئيس التركي إردوغان إلى الأخذ بعين الاعتبار أن آيا صوفيا لها “قيمة روحانية مقدسة عميقة جدا” لدى الروس. وتأتي الحرب الكلامية حول مستقبل المبنى في وقت حساس بالنسبة للعلاقات التركية الروسية. ورغم إقامة إردوغان وبوتين علاقة شخصية وسياسية وثيقة في السنوات الأخيرة، تشهد علاقات بلديهما توترا فيما يخص الملف السوري والليبي، حيث يدعم كل منهما لأطراف معارضة بالحرب الأهلية التي تدور في البلدين. وكان إردوغان قد أرجأ هذا العام تفعيل منظومة الدفاع الجوي S-400 التي اشتراها من روسيا، الصفقة التي أثارت إنذارا عميقا في الناتو. كما يسعى إلى استهداف صفقات الغاز الطبيعي المسال مع منتجين أميركيين، ما سيقلل اعتماد بلاده على الغاز الروسي. وأضفت خطوة إردوغان بتحويل آيا صوفيا إلى مسجد بعدا دينيا للعلاقة المتوترة ما بين أنقرة وموسكو. وحذر زعماء دين روس من أن تلك الخطوة تشكل “عودة إلى العصور الوسطى”.

وقال البطريرك كيريل، زعيم الكنيسة الأرثوذكسية الروسية الأكبر بالعالم بتعداد أتباعها، إن أي “تهديد ضد آيا صوفيا هو تهديد (..) لروحانيتنا وتاريخنا”. وأضاف “ما يمكن أن يحدث لآيا صوفيا سيسبب ألما عميقا بين الشعب الروسي”. وتم إنشاء آيا صوفيا عام 537 للميلاد بأمر من الإمبراطور البيزنطي جستنيان الذي امتد حكمه من إسبانيا إلى الشرق الأوسط وظل مبنى لا نظير له في العالم المسيحي إلى أن دخل السلطان العثماني محمد الثاني إسطنبول عام 1453 وحوله إلى مسجد. وقال مسؤولان تركيان إنه من المرجح أن تعلن محكمة الجمعة أن تحويل الأثر التاريخي آيا صوفيا في إسطنبول إلى متحف في عام 1934 كان غير قانوني مما يمهد الطريق أمام إعادته إلى مسجد رغم المخاوف الدولية.

واقترح الرئيس رجب طيب أردوغان إعادة المبنى الأثري المدرج على قائمة التراث العالمي لمنظمة الأمم المتحدة للتربية والعلم والثقافة (يونسكو) إلى مسجد مرة أخرى. ولآيا صوفيا شأن كبير في الإمبراطوريتين البيزنطية المسيحية والعثمانية الإسلامية وهو أحد أهم المقاصد السياحية في تركيا في الوقت الراهن. وأثار احتمال تنفيذ هذه الخطة القلق بين مسؤولين من الولايات المتحدة وروسيا واليونان وزعماء الكنائس المسيحية قبيل صدور حكم مجلس الدولة، أعلى محكمة إدارية في تركيا، والذي عقد جلسة يوم الخميس الماضي.

ويتعلق الأمر بمدى مشروعية القرار الذي اتخذ في عام 1934، بعد مرور عشرة أعوام على تأسيس مصطفى كمال أتاتورك الجمهورية العلمانية الحديثة، بتحويل المبنى الأثري إلى متحف. وقال مسؤول تركي بارز لرويترز “نتوقع أن يأتي القرار بالإلغاء وأن يصدر الحكم يوم الجمعة”. وقال مسؤول من حزب العدالة والتنمية ذي الجذور الإسلامية الذي يتزعمه أردوغان إن “قرارا لصالح الإلغاء” متوقع يوم الجمعة. وقالت الهيئة التي أقامت الدعوى إن آيا صوفيا من أملاك السلطان العثماني محمد الثاني، الملقب بمحمد الفاتح، الذي سيطر على المدينة عام 1453، والتي كانت تعرف في ذلك الوقت باسم القسطنطينية، وحول الكنيسة التي كان عمرها 900 عام بالفعل إلى مسجد.

Turkish court clears way to convert Hagia Sophia back to a mosque
The National/July 10/2020
Ruling finds 1934 decision to change Byzantine-era World Heritage site to a museum was illegal
Hagia Sophia or Ayasofya, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, that was a Byzantine cathedral before being converted into a mosque which is currently a museum, is seen in Istanbul, Turkey.
Turkey’s top administrative court on Friday announced its decision to revoke the Hagia Sophia’s status as a museum, paving the way for 1,500-year-old former cathedral to be opened as a mosque again.
The widely expected decision comes despite expressions of concern from US, French, Russian and Greek officials, as well as Christian church leaders, over the move.
The Council of State, which was debating a case brought by a Turkish NGO, cancelled a 1934 cabinet decision and ruled the Unesco World Heritage site would be reopened for Muslim worship.
The United Nations’ cultural body warned on Thursday that any change in the status of sixth-century building in Istanbul may have to be reviewed by its World Heritage committee.
The World Heritage site was built in the 6th century by the Byzantine emperor Justinian as a cathedral of the Greek Orthodox church before being converted to a mosque under the Ottoman empire nine centuries later. It was declared a museum in 1934 after the secular modern Turkish republic was established in 1923 and is one of Turkey’s most visited monuments.
Unesco said the Hagia Sophia was on its list of World Heritage Sites as a museum, and as such had certain commitments and legal obligations.
“Thus, a state must make sure that no modification undermines the outstanding universal value of a site listed on its territory. Any modification must be notified beforehand by the state to Unesco and be reviewed if need be by the World Heritage Committee,” the UN body told Reuters.
Unesco said it had expressed its concerns to Turkish authorities in several letters and conveyed the message to Turkey’s ambassador to the institution on Thursday.
“We urge Turkish authorities to start a dialogue before any decision is taken that could undermine the universal value of the site,” it said. The Council of State’s 10th Chamber in Ankara had previously deferred announcing its decision on the issue on July 2.
An official from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AK Party, which has Islamist roots, had said the decision “in favour of an annulment” was expected on Friday. The move is seen by Mr Erdogan’s critics as an attempt to divert attention from his economic and political troubles. The president had raised the idea previously ahead of municipal elections in March last year in which his party suffered several setbacks, including losing control of Istanbul.
Pro-government columnist Abdulkadir Selvi wrote in the Hurriyet newspaper that the court had already made the annulment ruling and would publish it on Friday.
“This nation has been waiting for 86 years. The court lifted the chain of bans on Hagia Sophia,” he wrote.
The association that brought the case said Hagia Sophia was the property of Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II, who in 1453 captured the city, then known as Constantinople, and turned the already 900-year-old Byzantine church into a mosque.
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual head of some 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide and based in Istanbul, said a conversion would disappoint Christians and “fracture” East and West. The head of Russia’s Orthodox Church said it would threaten Christianity.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Greece also urged Turkey to maintain the museum status.

Fifteen Centuries, Two Faiths and a Contested Fate for Hagia Sophia
Asharq Al-Awsat/July,11/2020
A Turkish court is set to rule on Friday on a 1934 presidential decree converting Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia into a museum. Two Turkish officials have said they expect the decree to be annulled, paving the way for it to become a mosque again.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whose ruling AK Party sprung from political Islam, has said the cavernous domed building should revert to being a place of Muslim worship. Hagia Sophia is nearly 1,500 years old and served as one of the most exalted seats of Christian and then Muslim worship in the world, meaning that any change to its status will have a profound impact on followers of both faiths. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Here are the key facts of Hagia Sophia’s history, the campaign to change its status, and statements by religious and political leaders about its fate.
Two faiths
Hagia Sophia, or “Divine Wisdom” in Greek, was completed in 537 by Byzantine emperor Justinian.
The vast, domed structure overlooked the Golden Horn harbor and entrance to the Bosphorus from the heart of Constantinople. It was the center of Orthodox Christianity and remained the world’s largest church for centuries.
Hagia Sophia stayed under Byzantine control – except for a brief seizure by Crusaders in the 13th century – until the city was captured by the Muslim forces of the Ottoman Sultan, Mehmet the Conqueror, who converted it into a mosque.
The Ottomans built four minarets, covered Hagia Sophia’s Christian icons and luminous gold mosaics, and installed huge black panels embellished with the names of God, the Prophet Mohammed and Muslim caliphs in Arabic calligraphy.
In 1934 Turkey’s first president, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, forging a secular republic out of the defeated Ottoman Empire, converted Hagia Sophia into a museum, now visited by millions of tourists every year.
Some people now want to change that.
A forgery?
A Turkish association committed to making Hagia Sophia a mosque again has pressed Turkish courts several times in the last 15 years to annul Ataturk’s decree.
In the latest campaign, it told Turkey’s top court that Ataturk’s government did not have the right to overrule the wishes of Sultan Mehmet – even suggesting that the president’s signature on the document was forged.
That argument was based on a discrepancy in Ataturk’s signature on the edict, passed around the same time that he assumed his surname, from his signature on subsequent documents.
Erdogan, who has championed Islam and religious observance during his 17-year rule, supported the Hagia Sophia campaign, saying Muslims should be able to pray there again and raised the issue – which is popular with many pious AKP-voting Turks – during local elections last year.
Turkish pollster Metropoll found that 44% of respondents believe Hagia Sophia was put on the agenda to divert voters’ attention from Turkey’s economic woes.
The pro-government Hurriyet newspaper reported last month that Erdogan had already ordered the status be changed, but that tourists should still be able to visit Hagia Sophia as a mosque and the issue would be handled sensitively.
Reaction
Outside Turkey, the prospect of change has raised alarm.
– Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual head of 300 million Orthodox Christians, said altering the status of Hagia Sophia would fracture Eastern and Western worlds. Russia’s Orthodox church said turning it into a mosque was unacceptable.
– US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said any change would diminish its ability “to serve humanity as a much-needed bridge between those of differing faith traditions and cultures”.
– Neighboring Greece, an overwhelmingly Orthodox country, said Turkey risked opening up a “huge emotional chasm” with Christian countries if it converts a building which was central to the Greek-speaking Byzantine empire and Orthodox church.
– Turkey has criticized what it says is foreign interference. “This is a matter of national sovereignty,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said. “What is important is what the Turkish people want.”