Since Muslims are on the defensive all over the world, it isn’t surprising that so many support the transition of Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia from a secular museum back into a mosque which it was for 481 years. It has a fascinating & complex political & religious history, including 900 years as a Christian cathedral. Its history is from paganism through the Byzantine to the Ottoman Empire & through the ruptures of World War I into a museum under Ataturk. It is certainly true that Erdogan’s decision to turn it back into a mosque is rooted in Turkish & regional politics & an attempt to pander to & foster rightwing political forces. It’s true that he’s being denounced all over the place by Christians & Jews, including by Pope Francis. But then again, Pope Francis has remained silent as a clam on Israel’s destruction of mosques all over the West Bank & in Gaza. If Hagia Sophia was being transitioned back into a Christian cathedral, would there be as much clamor?
Turkey under Erdogan has a repressive regime which has violently repressed protesters, attacked journalists & newspaper offices, & usually appeals to rightwing religious forces for support. It’s not politically advisable to strengthen their hands but it is a politically symbolic thing to turn Hagia Sophia back into a mosque. It is not politically symbolic when Israel razes mosques in the West Bank or Gaza. That is genocide & the distinction should not escape us.