Yesterday, thousands of Turk Muslims prayed in front of Ottomon’s symbol of pride, the historic Aya (Hagia) Sophia Mosque in Istanbul – turned into a museum by Gen. Mustapha Kemal Pasha (Attaturk), the Crypto-Jewish leader of the ruling Young Turks in 1934. Since then, Muslims are not allowed to hold prayers inside the building.
The worshippers shouted “Break the chains, let Aya Sophia Mosque open” and “Allah Akbar (Allah is the Greatest of all Gods)” before starting their regular prayers as the tourists at the museum watched.
“Keeping Hagia Sophia Mosque closed is an insult to our mostly Muslim population (99%) of 75 million. It symbolises our ill-treatment by the West,” Salih Turhan, head of the Anatolian Youth Association, which organised the event, told the crowd
The Hagia Sophia Mosque and the Blue Mosque are two of the most famous religious sites after the Ka’aba and the Prophet’s Mosque in Saudi Arabia and the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Israeli occupied East Jerusalem.
Aya Sofia Mosque, formerly the cathedral of Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom) was originally built by Emperor Constantius I (324-337 AC) on a pagan worship place. It was burned down during a revolt. It was resurrected by Emperor Theodosius in 415 AC and was again burned down during the Nika Revolt in 532 AC. Later, Emperor Justinian rebuild a much bigger church at the same site which was opened for worship on December 27, 537 AC.
On May 29, 1453, Turk Sultan Fatih Mehmet conquered the Byzantine capital of Constantinople and ordered all pictures and idols with the exception of a statue of Virgin Mary be removed and a wooden minaret added – thus signaling the conversion of the cathedral into a mosque. Some historian believe that though it’s forbidden in Islam to convert non-Muslim worship places to mosques – Sultan Fatih Mehmet took the action as a response to western Christians’ destruction and conversion of mosques to churches in Seville and Córdoba.
Tombs of Ottoman Sultans Selim II, Mehmet III, Murat III as well as some of royal family members are also part of the museum.
Click here for a virtual tour of the Aya Sophia Mosque.