Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke at the inauguration ceremony of the new mosque in the city of Zonguldak on Friday. It is one of his similar moves in recent weeks by promising to build other mosques in various parts of Turkey as reported by kathimerini.gr.
“I believe that every mosque we build is a spiritual guardian that protects the future of our people and our homeland,” he said, explaining the reasons for his decision to convert Hagia Sophia from a museum to a mosque:
“We have preserved these lands and made them our homeland with our blood, our flag and the sound of prayer coming from the mosques. That is why it is important and meaningful to open Hagia Sophia again for pilgrimage as a mosque, as it is a legacy of conquest.”
Erdogan even recalled the poem by Ziya Gökalp, for which he was sentenced to prison in 1998 for reciting his verses and accused of fostering religious hatred: “Mosques are our barracks / the domes are our helmets / our minarets are our bayonets / and the faithful are our soldiers.”
The Turkish president argued that his country was not limited to its borders. “Turkey is a great country whose power and responsibilities will not be limited within its borders. He will build bridges from the past to the future and we will continue to move towards the future,” he said.