Connect with us

Uncategorized

After decades as museum, Hagia Sophia to host prayers

Avatar

Published

on

Several thousand people including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have participated in the first Muslim prayers at Hagia Sophia since the controversial reconversion of the former cathedral into a mosque.
The prayers come after a 10 July ruling revoked the Byzantine-era building’s status as a museum, in place since 1934.
Mr Erdogan recited a verse from the Koran before the call to prayer was heard from the four minarets of Hagia Sophia. 

It served as a Christian Byzantine cathedral for 900 years before it was seized by Ottoman conquerors and converted to a mosque.
Muslims prayed there until 1934 when it was turned into a museum.
Hagia Sophia is nearly 1,500 years old and was one of the most exalted seats of Christian and then Muslim worship in the world, meaning that the change to its status has profound repercussions for 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 following its conversion to a mosque.
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 centre 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 Mohammad 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.
In July 2020, a Turkish court annulled its museum status, paving the way for Mr Erdogan to designate it a mosque.
Its Christian frescoes and glittering mosaics adorning the dome and central hall will be concealed during Muslim prayer times, but remain on display at other times.
A forgery?
A Turkish association which was committed to making Hagia Sophia a mosque again 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.
Mr 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.
Reaction
Outside Turkey, the change has raised alarm and despair, but Turkey has said what Turkish people want is of most importance.
– Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual head of 300 million Orthodox Christians, said altering the status of Hagia Sophia would fracture Eastern and Western worlds.
– In neighbouring Greece, an overwhelmingly Orthodox country, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said: “This is a choice which offends all those who also recognise the monument as a World Heritage Site.”
– A spokesman for the US State Department said the United States was disappointed by the decision but looked forward to hearing Turkey’s plans for continued stewardship of the Hagia Sophia to ensure it remains accessible to all.

Read More

Uncategorized

Leaders of Turkey and Greece discuss COVID fallout in rare call

Avatar

Published

on

ATHENS/ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan discussed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic by phone on Friday, Athens and Ankara said – rare such contact for two neighbours at odds over a range of issues.Mitsotakis and Erdogan addressed ways of handling the effects of the coronavirus outbreak, the reopening of borders and the re-establishment of tourist flows, a statement from Mitsotakis’s office said.“Mr Mitsotakis and Mr Erdogan agreed to keep the bilateral channels of communication open,” it said, a line re-iterated in the statement from the Turkish presidency.Erdogan’s office also said the two discussed tourism, security, as well as cooperation on economic issues and the fight against COVID-19.A Greek source with knowledge of the matter said: “The two leaders didn’t discuss high policy matters, but they did agree that tension is relatively high and that channels of communication must be restored.“There cannot be a de-escalation of tensions if the two sides don’t talk.”Though NATO partners and neighbours, Greece and Turkey have testy relations and differences on issues as diverse as airspace rights, maritime boundaries and ethnically-divided Cyprus.Reporting by Michele Kambas and Renee Maltezou in Athens, and Can Sezer in Istanbul; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Jonathan Spicerfor-phone-onlyfor-tablet-portrait-upfor-tablet-landscape-upfor-desktop-upfor-wide-desktop-up
Read More

Continue Reading

Uncategorized

Brazil Senate approves bill on ‘fake news’…

Avatar

Published

on

(Adds details) BRASILIA, June 30 (Reuters) – Brazil’s Senate approved on Tuesday a bill governing rules to fight fake news, with Senate head David Alcolumbre saying it also guarantees social media transparency. The bill’s main text was approved by a 44-32 vote. It still needs to be voted by lower house lawmakers. “We need to understand this universe and recognize that freedom of expression cannot be confused with aggression, violence or threat,” Alcolumbre wrote in his Twitter account. After the main text’s approval, senators also voted on amendments to the bill. “We tried to make the text more concise, ensuring the right of reply and the immediate removal of content in serious situations such as the violation of the rights of children and adolescents, prejudice due to issues of race, ethnicity and national origin,” the bill’s rapporteur, Senator Angelo Coronel, said. (Reporting by Maria Carolina Marcello; Writing by Gabriela Mello; Editing by Leslie Adler)

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Read More

Continue Reading

Uncategorized

POPE: Media Should Help People ‘Distinguish Good from Evil’…

Avatar

Published

on

ROME — Pope Francis told members of the Catholic Press Association Tuesday that the media should build bridges, defend life, and help people, especially the young, “to distinguish good from evil.”
In their reporting, journalists should help people “to develop sound judgments based on a clear and unbiased presentation of the facts, and to understand the importance of working for justice, social concord and respect for our common home,” the pope told them.
The pope sent his message to participants in a virtual Catholic media conference sponsored by the Catholic Press Association and began by expressing his closeness “to those who have been affected by the virus and to those who, even at the risk of their lives, have worked and continue to work in assisting our brothers and sisters in need.”
The experience of the pandemic “has shown how essential is the mission of the communications media for bringing people together, shortening distances, providing necessary information, and opening minds and hearts to truth,” Francis said.
The communications media are called “to inform and to unite,” the pontiff said. “E pluribus unum – the ideal of unity amid diversity, reflected in the motto of the United States, must also inspire the service you offer to the common good.”
“How urgently is this needed today, in an age marked by conflicts and polarization from which the Catholic community itself is not immune,” he continued. “We need media capable of building bridges, defending life and breaking down the walls, visible and invisible, that prevent sincere dialogue and truthful communication between individuals and communities.”
“We need media that can help people, especially the young, to distinguish good from evil, to develop sound judgments based on a clear and unbiased presentation of the facts, and to understand the importance of working for justice, social concord and respect for our common home,” he said.
The pope also said that journalists should be men and women of conviction who “protect communication from all that would distort it or bend it to other purposes.”
Communication is not only a matter of professional competence, he said. “A true communicator dedicates himself or herself completely to the welfare of the others, at every level, from the life of each individual to the life of the entire human family.”
With a nod to recent protests in the United States, the pope said everyone must work “to overcome the diseases of racism, injustice and indifference that disfigure the face of our common family.”
“Where the world sees conflicts and divisions, may you look to the suffering and the poor, and give voice to the plea of our brothers and sisters in need of mercy and understanding,” he said.
The pope ended his message by assuring Catholic journalists of his support and prayers, while urging them to remain “united in faith and resistant to fleeting cultural fads that lack the fragrance of evangelical truth.”
Follow @tdwilliamsrome

Read More

Continue Reading

Facebook

Trending