Recep Tayyip Erdogan was present in person for a day it calls itself a history for the muslim world. On Friday, a first prayer, gathering several thousands of muslims took place in the hagia Sophia, which the Turkish president has confirmed the decree of conversion into a mosque. The officer, who wore for the occasion a skull cap islamic, has recited a passage of the Koran in the former basilica.
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When this prayer, which was broadcast live, Recep Tayyip Erdogan was read the first sura of the sacred book of the muslims. Then the four minarets of the hagia Sophia have issued the call to prayer, signalling the start of the rite. "We are witnessing a historical moment (...) A long separation ends ", said the head of the religious Authority Ali Erbas who, during his preaching, holding a scimitar symbolizing the conquest of Constantinople by the Ottomans in 1453.
First collective prayer for 86 years
This is the first collective prayer held since 86-year-old in Sainte-Sophie, great architectural work built in the sixth century, who has successively served as a byzantine basilica, a mosque, an ottoman and a museum.
On July 10, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has decided to return the building to the muslim faith after a court decision revoking its status as a museum, obtained in 1934. This measure has aroused the wrath of some countries, including Greece, which closely follows the fate of the byzantine heritage in Turkey. Pope Francis also said he was "quite distressed" by this conversion.
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The day of the 97th anniversary of the treaty of Lausanne
As a symbol, Erdogan has chosen for the first prayer on the day of the 97th anniversary of the treaty of Lausanne that fixed the borders of modern Turkey, and the president, nostalgic for the ottoman Empire, often calls for you to review. The hagia Sophia remains in Turkey to be closely associated with the taking of Constantinople by sultan Mehmet II, known as "the Conqueror". A marching band ottoman was also present on the front steps of the building Friday.
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" This is the time when the Turkey broke his chains. She will now be able to do what she wants, without being subject to the West, " says Selahattin Aydas, a trader came to pray in the hagia Sophia. "No one other than our president would not have been able to turn it back into a mosque ", he adds. The prayer of Friday, intervenes in a context of strong tensions between Ankara and Athens, particularly as they relate to the explorations of Turkish of hydrocarbons in the eastern Mediterranean. Greece has strongly denounced the conversion of hagia Sophia into a mosque, seeing it as a " provocation against the civilized world ".
Day of "mourning" for the orthodox churches in Greece
As a form of protest in Greece, the orthodox churches were to ring their bells Friday. "This is a day of mourning for (...) the whole of christendom ", said the head of the Greek Church, the archbishop Iéronymos. Israfeel, a seller of rugs near Sainte-Sophie, is also unhappy about the conversion of the hagia Sophia, fearing " a negative impact on tourism ", which has already suffered enormously because of the epidemic.
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" All this show, it is for political reasons ", he grunts. But Ankara has rejected all criticism in the name of "sovereignty," stressing that the tourists will continue to visit this building, classified as world heritage of humanity by Unesco. The precipitation of the authorities to organize a first prayer raises any concerns.