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Erdogan tells the world: I don’t give a damn

Erdogan tells the world: I don’t give a damn

"I can't change history, I don't want to change history. I can only change the future. I'm working on that."

A former professional sportsman, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan might be aware of this all-time famous line from tennis legend Boris Becker.

Or, if Erdogan has watched <em>Gone with the Wind</em> in which Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) tells Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh), "Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn."

There are big doubts, however, over him actually believing in what Becker had said.

Erdogan wants to change history and is certainly not working on changing the future of Turks.

The order to convert Istanbul's 1,500-year-old Greek Orthodox Christian cathedral, Hagia Sophia, into a mosque has probably given Erdogan a high which even Becker wouldn't have gotten after winning six grand slam titles.

<img class="wp-image-5205 size-full" src="https://indianarrative.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/istanbul-hagia-sophia-sultanahmet-landscape-historical-works-museum-view-ancient-city-on.jpg" alt="" width="880" height="622" /> Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, a monument of harmony and a symbol of the secularism

"I invite everyone to respect decisions taken by the judicial and executive bodies of my country on Hagia Sophia. We will be treating every opinion voiced on the international stage with respect. But the way Hagia Sophia's will be used falls under Turkey's sovereign rights. We deem every move that goes beyond voicing an opinion a violation of our sovereignty," Erdogan said in an address to the nation yesterday shortly after the Council of State, Turkey's top administrative court, announced its much-anticipated verdict of annulling a 1935 cabinet ruling which had turned Hagia Sophia into a museum.

<a href="https://indianarrative.com/world/erdogan-now-wants-to-convert-a-6th-century-unesco-heritage-site-into-a-mosque-4464.html">India Narrative had reported last week</a> how Erdogan, working so hard to fulfill his dream of reviving the Ottoman Empire, wanted to convert Hagia Sophia, a Unesco World Heritage site, into a mosque.

<iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/TmFszoYbJ34" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe>

A unique architectural masterpiece of Byzantine era, Hagia Sophia was designed by Anthemius of Tralles and Isidoros of Miletus in the sixth century (532-537). The cathedral was turned into a mosque when the Byzantine Empire surrendered to Ottoman Turks in 1453. In 1935, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of the Republic of Turkey and its first President from 1923 until his death in 1938, turned it into a museum.

Now, after 85 years, as the first call to prayer was recited and broadcast live on all channels of Turkey yesterday, the museum has been converted back into a mosque and all of its social media handles and links deactivated, much to the joy of Islamists in the country.

"I underline that we will open Hagia Sophia as a mosque by preserving the common cultural heritage of humanity," Erdogan assured.

Not many believe him.

"This decision — coming 85 years after it was declared a museum — is an insult to its ecumenical character. It also constitutes a choice that similarly insults all those who recognize the monument as part of world culture. It affects not only Turkey’s relations with Greece, but those with the European Union, Unesco, and the global community as a whole. It is regrettable that the Turkish leadership, which in 2005 worked for the Alliance of Cultures, now chooses to move in the entirely opposite direction," said Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in a statement.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet">
<p dir="ltr" lang="en">A sad day for Christians around the world. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HagiaSophia?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HagiaSophia</a> <a href="https://t.co/MSyXZ8Fqz1">pic.twitter.com/MSyXZ8Fqz1</a></p>
— Greekcitytimes (@greekcitytimes) <a href="https://twitter.com/greekcitytimes/status/1281835255796645888?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">July 11, 2020</a></blockquote>
<script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

His culture minister Lina Mendoni was much more scathing.

"Turkey's decision is a direct challenge to the entire civilized world. Mr. Erdogan's nationalism had pushed the country back six centuries. He has chosen for Turkey its cultural isolation," she said.

"Deeply regretting" the move, Unesco said the decision of the Turkish authorities was made "without prior discussion, and calls for the universal value of World Heritage to be preserved."

"Hagia Sophia is part of the Historic Areas of Istanbul, a property inscribed on Unesco's World Heritage List. Hagia Sophia is an architectural masterpiece and a unique testimony to interactions between Europe and Asia over the centuries. Its status as a museum reflects the universal nature of its heritage, and makes it a powerful symbol for dialogue. This decision announced today raises the issue of the impact of this change of status on the property's universal value. States have an obligation to ensure that modifications do not affect the Outstanding Universal Value of inscribed sites on their territories. Unesco must be given prior notice of any such modifications, which, if necessary, are then examined by the World Heritage Committee," said Director-General Audrey Azoulay.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet">
<p dir="ltr" lang="en">Spot the difference.</p>
Erdogan in English: Hagia Sophia's doors will be, as is the case with all our mosques, wide open to all, whether they be foreign or local, Muslim or non-Muslim.

Erdogan in Arabic: Revival of Hagia Sophia is a sign towards return of freedom to AlAqsa mosque. <a href="https://t.co/6Niid8fP8J">pic.twitter.com/6Niid8fP8J</a>

— Jenan Moussa (@jenanmoussa) <a href="https://twitter.com/jenanmoussa/status/1281875108039196672?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">July 11, 2020</a></blockquote>
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The United States also said that it was "disappointed" by the Turkish government's decision.

"We are disappointed by the decision by the government of Turkey to change the status of the Hagia Sophia. We understand the Turkish Government remains committed to maintaining access to the Hagia Sophia for all visitors, and look forward to hearing its plans for continued stewardship of the Hagia Sophia to ensure it remains accessible without impediment for all," said State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus in a statement Friday.

Turkish novelist, screenwriter, academic and recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature, Ferit Orhan Pamuk, one of Turkey's best-selling writer, <a href="https://tr.sputniknews.com/turkiye/202007101042434525-orhan-pamuk-ayasofyayi-yeniden-camiye-cevirmek-dunyanin-geri-kalanina-artik-sekuler-degiliz/">said</a> that turning Hagia Sophia back into a mosque means "we are no longer secular for the rest of the world."

Perhaps Pamuk is unaware that the day Erdogan — called as a 'radical Islamist megalomaniac' by US politician Tulsi Gabbard not too long ago — assumed power, the world already believed that Turkey's claim of being a secular nation was under a big threat.

Just like Hagia Sophia, Turkey too won't be the same again..