Turkey: ‘now the Caliphate’, Islamists launch campaign

News About Turkey - NAT
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As faithful continue to flood Hagia Sophia mosque

ISTANBUL – Islamists in Turkey have launched a campaign calling on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to bring back the Caliphate, an institution of the Ottoman Empire that was abolished by the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. The campaign comes on the heels of the Turkish government’s controversial decision to convert Istanbul’s symbolic Hagia Sophia monument, a former Christian basilica, back into a mosque following decades in use as a museum.

The strongest initiative came in Monday’s edition of the weekly Gercek Kayat – tied to the ultraconservative, pro-government daily Yeni Safak – with a red front-page running the headline “Let’s Rally for the Caliphate” and the subtitle “If not now, when, if not you, who?” The message also ran in English and Arabic, showing the intention of sending a message on an international scale to the Muslim world. Also on the cover was the phrase “Now Ayasofya (Hagia Sophia) and Turkey are free”. The cover is provoking strong debate on social media, where the hashtag “Caliphate” in Turkish is trending.

Meanwhile, the massive flow of Muslim faithful to the Hagia Sophia is continuing, following the opening for prayer last Friday. Thousands of people visited the mosque over the weekend and into Monday for ritual Muslim prayers. Tourists and the simply curious also turned out to look at the building’s new look, with its nearly 2,000 square metres of marble floor covered in a Turkish carpet on which the faithful can kneel, as in every mosque; as well as Christian icons covered by curtains.

Many faithful are also gathering outside the building in the adjoining Sultanahmet Square. In recent hours, various Turkish experts have expressed concern over the risks tied to gatherings, after Erdogan said 350,000 people participated in the inauguration. Teams of technicians in the municipality of Fatih, where the Hagia Sophia is located, carried out several disinfections of the structure in the intervals between prayers.

Source: ANSA med

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