Historian Dinç: Opening Hagia Sophia for worship on 'July 24' means something


İSTANBUL - Indicating that opening Hagia Sophia on the anniversary of the Treaty of Lausanne means something rather than an arbitrary choice of date, historian and author Namik Kemal Dinc said, "Turkey declared that it evolves into an Islamic state."

The Council of State, Turkey's highest administrative court, on Friday unanimously revoked a 1934 cabinet decision making it a museum. Justice and Development Party (AKP) leader and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said following the decision that the city’s sixth-century Hagia Sophia, which became a symbol of secularism in modern Turkey when it was converted into a museum in the 1930s, would reopen to Muslim prayer as a full-fledged mosque later this month. "God willing, we will perform Friday prayers all together on July 24 and reopen Hagia Sophia to worship," Erdogan said in an address to the nation.
Historian and author Namık Kemal Dinç shared his evaluations on Turkey's decision to change the status of Istanbul's landmark Hagia Sophia from a museum to a mosque.
Stating that the Treaty of Lausanne signed on July 24, 1923 is important in terms of protecting the rights of minorities, but despite the agreement Turkey has not been protecting the rights of the minorities Dinç said, "After Lausanne, the policies have excluded non-Muslims, decreased non-Mulims population and substituted Muslim-Turkish population for their place. If you analyze the period after Lausanne, it will be seen that there is a decrease in both the number of places of worship for non-Muslims and the number of properties that belong to non-Muslims. Greeks had to migrate by force in 1960s as well as the Armenians who could not hold on to these lands and migrated."
Dinç evaluated the decision of the Council of State to open Hagia Sophia for worship as a "political decision". Stating that the judiciary has become an instrument of political power, Dinç said, “The (Turkish) government is trying to legitimize these decisions by the hands of judiciary."
"There are discourses symbolized by the sentences: 'We will build a mosque in Taksim, we will open Hagia Sophia for worship'. These things have been repeated over and over again since ancient times in the political history of Turkey. The AKP government brings these discourses back to life," said Dinç as the thinks that the Islamic movement in Turkey has built its rhetoric based on a "symbolic discourse". "It is very meaningful," noted Dinç saying, "While Atatürk Cultural Center (AKM) was falling down, Taksim Mosque was rising right in front of it. This is a symbolic message. It is the practice of many years of Islamic discourse. Hagia Sophia has such a symbolic character in this sense."
Dinç pointed out that Turkey's decision on opening Hagia Sophia for worship on July 24 that is the anniversary of the Treaty of Lausanne means something. "There is no old Turkey anymore, that is the new Turkey," is the message that Turkey sends to the West by this choice of Date, according to Dinç who said, "Turkey says to the West 'We change the Kemalist understanding of history, we make a brand new reading of history.' There was an ideal in the Kemalist understanding of history, such as rising to the level of contemporary civilizations. Turkey says that these ideals are completely removed. This is a message that the old understanding of conquer has been revived to build a new Turkey."
"The decision should not only be evaluated in terms of the Treaty of Lousanne, but also in terms of the manifestation of Turkey to reveal the difference between the old and the new Turkey," said Dinç. Mentioning the recent expansionist policies of Turkey in the Middle East and Libya. Dinç finished his evaluations with the following commends, "Turkey announces that it has evolved into an Islamic state structure. In this sense, this decision regarding Hagia Sophia, known as the symbol of peace, fellowship and tolerance should also be read as an attitude towards the Christian-Western world. In other words, it is declared that the Ottoman dreams have been re-aroused and Turkey will act accordingly."

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