Aghia Sophia, Erdogan Neo-Ottomanism and the Delusions of Imperial Islamism Charles Elias Chartouni/July 12/2020 شارل الياس الشرتوني: كنيسة أيا صوفيا واردوغان العثماني الجديد وأوهام الإسلام الإمبراطوري
The conversion of the Aghia Sophia Museum ( 1934 ) into a Mosque comes at the heels of a systematic campaign to re-islamize social and political life in Turkey, eradicate its secular culture, and engage a Neo-ottoman imperialist drive across multiple geo-political spectrums (Middle East /Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Lybia, European Community, Balkans and Central Asia).
This forced political momentum encounters several obstacles caused by worn credibility, pervasive corruption and cronyism, undermined political economy, strident political polarization and lingering cultural wars and unsustainable war mongering.
However distanced are the electoral deadlines, Erdogan is planning to cash on the change of status of St. Sophia to organize anticipated elections, forestall his inevitable downfall and give a renewed lifeline to his Sultanist autocracy.
His political frenzy needs to be constantly nurtured by unconventional undertakings and he presumes that the re-Islamization of St. Sophia might be the metaphor to uphold his tattering legitimacy.
His miscalculation is proven all along wrong, be it domestically or at the international level, Turkish society is deeply divided over his political legacy and ongoing political dynamics of deliberate subversion all across the board.
The resuscitation of conflict imaginaries is part of a Neo-Ottoman imperial agenda paired with an active policy of geopolitical destabilization, ethno-religious polarization, illiberal demagoguery and instrumentalization of the regalian functions of the State to promote his Sultanist stature.
The impact of the re-Islamization of St. Sophia￼ is a highly symptomatic gesture which features the growing radicalization of a￼ fascist Islamist autocracy, and elicits an inevitable collision course with the internal oppositions, the European Community, the Orthodox Churches and their political conglomerates (Greece, Russia, Serbia, Bulgaria).
Erdogan’s political tenor is an outright illustration of the compelling ” Civilizational Clash ” template investigated by Samuel Huntington and amply testified throughout different geopolitical configurations.
The thrust of Neo-Ottoman imperialism is questioning geopolitical equilibriums, European and Western security, religious ecumenism, democratic pluralism and civil concord across various political topographies.
International reactions to this act of subversion, be they on the part of States, Churches, or international institutions are quite indicative of the worries it causes, and the toxic effects it propounds all along.
It’s about time to challenge Erdogan, question his totalitarian and imperial aspirations, sabotaging politics and discretionary membership and partnership with NATO and the EU, and repression politics in Turkey itself.
The undermined democracy within Turkey is the premiss to his international imperial drive, and both should be questioned, thwarted and reversed, the support to Turkish oppositions is corollary to a bold containment policy in the various geo-strategic terrains. Reversing fascism before it grows bolder and sinks poisonous roots is an utmost assignment at a time when Turkish Islamist fascism is attempting to broaden its canopy.
* The Cathedral Church and episcopal see of the ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, built under Justinian 1st ( 527-565 ), between 532-537. Converted into mosque with the downfall of Constantinople in 1453, and into museum in 1934.