Saturday 11 July 2020

Hagia Sophia

The Turkish courts ruled yesterday afternoon that the Hagia Sophia should never have ceased to be a mosque and within an hour Erdogan had made it one again.

This news is huge. Infinitely more important than the death of a criminal high on drugs in some place in America. 

Constantinople had a Christian majority before and after the First World War, in which one of Russia's war aims was that the divine liturgy would be celebrated in Hagia Sophia.

The Turks can do as they please, since they kept hold of Constantinople after that war (it and Jerusalem should have been made free cities), but it's symbolically very important because it's the end of Ataturk's secular republic, which was as secular as the French Republic. 

And symbolically it is a very important victory for Mohametanism. And a very big victory by the Islamists over the courts, an important part of the deep state.

Kemal Ataturk began as a Young Turk and wanted to make Turkey a modern European country, as had Enver and the Young Turks, but Ataturk's insight was that Islam held Turkey back. That's why he made the Sancta Sophia and the Chorea church etc museums. I wonder if they will make my beloved Chorea a mosque again.

Le Monde says Islamists have long campaigned for the Hagia Sophia AND for the Chorea Museum which is currently being restored to be again mosques. If the Chorea becomes a mosque will its amazing mosaics be hidden from sight? Presumably yes.

I always visit the Chorea when I am in Constantinople and stay in the charming hotel next door.

The very left-wing Anglican clergyman and journalist the Reverend Giles Fraser has an interesting argument in favour of this: that Muslims and Christians worship the same one God (I agree, though Muslims misunderstand Him) and we should be pleased the place is used for prayer once more. I suppose I prefer Islam to secularism.


  1. Percentage of People Who Answered “I believe there is a God” in 2005 Eurobarometer Poll

  2. One of the wings of Hagia Sophia has effectively been opened to Muslim prayer for several years. 
    In 2016, the Religious Affairs Directorate appointed a full-time imam to the Hagia Sophia, and the call to prayer is broadcast from all four of its minarets, which were added following its initial conversion.

    1. I knew something of this - how much better you are Toma than the useless and mendacious newspapers.

  3. and we should be pleased the place is used for prayer once more. I suppose I prefer Islam to secularism.

    If you believe that religion matters and that it should matter then, yeah, you really have no choice but to support the Muslims on this issue.

    If Christians hope to resist the rising tide of decadence, degeneracy and madness currently engulfing the West and if they have hopes that Christianity might survive in any meaningful way then the only potential allies they have who are worth a damn are the Muslims.

  4. France takes Algeria from Turkey, and almost every year England annexes another Indian principality: none of this disturbs the balance of power; but when Russia occupies Moldavia and Wallachia, albeit only temporarily, that disturbs the balance of power. France occupies Rome and stays there several years during peacetime: that is nothing; but Russia only thinks of occupying Constantinople, and the peace of Europe is threatened. The English declare war on the Chinese, who have, it seems, offended them: no one has the right to intervene; but Russia is obliged to ask Europe for permission if it quarrels with its neighbor. England threatens Greece to support the false claims of a miserable Jew and burns its fleet: that is a lawful action; but Russia demands a treaty to protect millions of Christians, and that is deemed to strengthen its position in the East at the expense of the balance of power. We can expect nothing from the West but blind hatred and malice...

    Comment in the margin by Nicholas I: 'This is the whole point'.

    Mikhail Pogodin's memorandum to Nicholas I, 1853

  5. The Tsar next dispatched  Prince Menshikov, on a special mission to the Ottoman Sublime Porte in February 1853. By previous treaties, the sultan was committed "to protect the Christian religion and its churches". Menshikov demanded a Russian protectorate over all 12 million Orthodox Christians in the Empire, with control of the Orthodox Church's hierarchy. A compromise was reached regarding Orthodox access to the Holy Land, but the Sultan, strongly supported by the British ambassador, rejected the more sweeping demands.

    Jelavich, Barbara (2004). Russia's Balkan Entanglements, 1806–1914. Cambridge University Press. pp. 118–22. 

  6. I don't understand why the indignation. They've conquered it, they dispose now of it the way they like and those who lost the war have nothing to say.

    A part of the mosque of Córdoba was transformed into a Catholic church and apparently no-one protested that it should be a museum.

    1. I was in Cordoba in January and saw that someone had written an article saying Spaniards were shocked when Google Maps by a glitch renamed the Mosque-Cathedral simply Cathedral - I was astonished that the writer thought this would shock Spaniards.

    2. I feel no indignation - but am very afraid that the mosaics will be hidden. What matters is what this means for Turkey.

  7. A comment on the blog of the London Review of Books (LRB): “Lost in the clash-of-civilisations din is the question of whether cultural heritage sites should be closed off as museums or continue to be lived-in places, including places that are at times used for worship. . . Getting into Hagia Sophia used to cost $15, roughly a day’s work at the national minimum wage, and way beyond the means of the average Turkish family. The mosque will be more accessible to thousands of Turkish Christians than the museum ever was.”