Istanbul: Could the former cathedral of Hagia Sophia become a mosque?
by Christophe Lafontaine.
The great cathedral of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey, was once the centre of Eastern Orthodoxy, before being transformed into a mosque, and then a museum. On 23 March this year the Muslim call to prayer was once again heard in this former byzantine cathedral, a building which has been officially secular since 1934. The first time that such an event happened in recent history was on 3 July 2016, after an interval of 85 years.
In order to decipher the motivation behind this incident, the international Catholic pastoral charity and pontifical foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN International) spoke to Etienne Copeaux, a historian of modern Turkey. As a former fellow of the French Institute of Anatolian studies (Institut français d'études anatoliennes) in Istanbul and a former researcher of the CNRS (Centre national de la recherche scientifique), he currently hosts the blog Susam-Sosak, which is devoted entirely to Turkey. He was interviewed by Christophe Lafontaine.
Hagia Sophia in Istanbul - Exterior picture. Photographer: Christophe Lafontaine. Copyright: Aid to the Church in Need.