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HKS Authors

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Professor of Public Policy and Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman Professor of International Relations

Abstract

This month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reconsecrated the Hagia Sophia — a UNESCO world heritage site and museum — as a house of Muslim worship. To Erdogan’s many opponents, this looks like the latest move in a long-running attempt to undo Turkish secularism. The president’s supporters dismiss this interpretation, portraying the whole thing as a purely domestic, even mundane, legal matter. But Erdogan himself has hinted at something much more expansive. In a recent speech, he declared that the “resurrection of Hagia Sophia” represents “the footsteps of the will of Muslims across the world to come out of the interregnum,” and the “reignition of the fire of hope of not just Muslims, but … of all the oppressed, wronged, downtrodden and exploited.” Such language has prompted critics at home and abroad to fret, “Is the caliphate next?”

Citation

Masoud, Tarek, and Aytug Sasmaz. "Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia is a mosque again. Do Turkish citizens want Erdogan to restore the caliphate?" Washington Post. July 24, 2020.