Hagia Sofia: Does the conversion into a mosque have a positive side?

Erdogan said he would do it and he did it. This a lesson, by the way, for all those in Athens, who at various times, interpret statements and pronouncements by Erdogan as words not to be taken at face value, or rhetoric to be used as negotiating chips.


Experience and facts, however, prove that Erdogan belongs to that category of leader that does almost everything he talks about. Because this consistency is linked to the prestige, his perception of his prestige and his role as the leader, not just of Turkey, and I am referring, of course, to the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque, but of all Sunni Muslims.

But what does this actions signify? Of course, it is a very unpleasant event that a monument of such caliber, is being converted into a mosque. This, as concerns the cultural significance, and the special sensitivities of the Greeks. Of all Greeks around the globe, for a monument that constitutes a symbol. A monument inextricably linked with the course of Hellenism throughout the centuries.

On the other hand, on a diplomatic/political level, Erdogan’s move favors Greece. In this diplomatic war of positions, this move by Erdogan is a costly one. He is not personally ignorant of this. However, as Middle Eastern-style leader whose locus is the Muslim world, what interests him is to pass his qualifiers in that arena, and not in the West.

This move of his, however, forces everyone, and I am not referring just to Christendom, but I am referring to all civilized countries, so see, without blinders, who Erdogan is. Erdogan, in a sense, brings back to the symbolic – cultural level the religious wars of the past.

He does so very consciously, because this is his world view, his weltanschauung, and because as I said before he is tendering his qualifiers vis-a-vis the global Muslim community and because he is solidifying the deeply religious community in Turkey, during a crucial time when his prestige is waning. It is waning because of both the global pandemic, but mainly because of the economic crisis that is undermining the roots of his political hegemony.

The issue of Hagia Sophia is not a Greek-Turkish issue, and under no circumstances should it become one. Greece has no reason even to be at the forefront. Obviously, Greece expressed its displeasure, given that its sensitivities on the issue are given, but on the other hand it cannot take the lead in a campaign against this issue. It should let the West face Erdogan and what he wants to represent: religious fanaticism.

One can conclude that Erdogan has not hesitation in opening up fronts. History teaches that he who opens many fronts has great difficulty in successfully managing them. And those who have a difficulty grasping this should consider what the attack against the Al-Watiya airbase in western Libya. It was a warning message, and was essentially the first step into a new period. And this perhaps is most important in understanding the region and the political dynamics developing within it.