Home > Radical Islam, Wars and Rumors of War > Turkey: From Churches to Mosques, See What Happens When a Secular State is Taken Over by Islamists

Turkey: From Churches to Mosques, See What Happens When a Secular State is Taken Over by Islamists

“A story in today’s International Herald Tribune (read here on the New York Times website) provides an interesting insight into exactly what happens when a secular state is taken over by Islamists. The piece concerned the Hagia Sophia of Iznik, an ancient church that brought 40,000 tourists to the town south of Istanbul much to the delight of the locals. Iznik was once known as Nicaea, and it was there the first Ecumenical Council of the Christian Church met at the Hagia Sophia in the year 325. But the Islamist government of Turkey has put a damper on the prosperity of those who profited from the museum by formally converting the building into a mosque.

Of course, after the Muslim conquest of the Byzantine Empire, all churches in the region were turned into mosques, with the most conspicuous example being the majestic Hagia Sophia of Constantinople (now Istanbul). But unlike that more famous site, which was registered as a museum when Turkey became a secular republic, the one in Iznik was never formally named as such, though it served in that function and had not been used as a mosque in well over a century. The ruling AKP party of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has taken the initiative to reinstitute Muslim-only worship at the place, much to the dismay of the Muslim residents of the town who point out there was no shortage of mosques there. But to the AKP, the ancient surge to plant the flag of Islam over the ruins of other cultures is more important than tourism.

The irony here is the Turkish Ministry of Culture had been hoping to promote the place to increase its share of tourists from Europe and elsewhere, especially those interested in the considerable Christian heritage of the region. But like the abortive effort to entice Americans to go to Turkey to see the place where the original Saint Nicholas lived during their Christmas holidays, the AKP’s intolerance trumps other considerations.

While people in the town are appalled at this turn of events, it appears the decision came straight from the top…” Read more.

  1. 02/11/2012 at 1:47 AM

    Turkey in the news:

    ‘Turkey turning into Nazi camp’

    ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News

    CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu slams Turkey’s specially authorized courts saying that the courts are transforming Turkey into a Nazi camp. The roots of the courts go back to the 1980 coup, he says…


    More Turkey in the news:

    Sex consensual as rape victim didn’t scream, Turkish court rules

    A court in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır has ruled that a rape victim had consensual sex with her assailant because she “did not scream” during the intercourse…


    Also this:

    Turkey’s Davutoğlu says Assad prefers to be like Milosevic not Gorbachev

    Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has said although Turkey wanted Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad to be like former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, he prefers to be like late Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, a nationalist strongman known for his brutal crackdown on ethnic Albanian rebels and ethnic cleansing in the 1990s.

    “Yes, we had good relations with Syria for nine years, but Assad was not fighting with his own people then. Last year, we wanted Assad to be Syria’s Gorbachev, but he preferred to be like Milosevic of Syria. That’s the problem,” Davutoğlu said on Thursday as he addressed students at George Washington University….


    Interesting comparison, and kind of catchy, but this guy is crafty and cunning (too much alliteration?) He’s snake-like, serpent-y, Satan-y. I think he’s putting some unwary students at GWU under his spell. Did I say I didn’t like him much?


  2. ICA
    02/11/2012 at 12:58 PM

    Good links Kurt, I wouldn’t be surprised if the AKP silences Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu soon (maybe they’ll invent something to charge him with and toss him in prison, like many others), and I’m watching their reaction to Syria closely. They speak like, and even act like, “liberators of the Syrian people”, but we’re able to see what lies behind the fog. They know, too, that a pro-Shiite autocracy in Syria will be replaced by one that is pro-Sunni if Assad is removed. It might get very messy however between now and then.


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