“The time has come for May 29 to represent the conquest, with God’s will we shall conquer those Muslim mosques that are symbols of conquest,” Ali Erbaş, head of Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate, said in an online interview with Ersin Çelik, head of news of the pro-government newspaper Yeni Şafak, referring to the Ottoman anniversary of the Fall of Constantinople in 1453 on Friday, May 29.
This date is celebrated as the day of “Conquest” (Fethi) for Muslim Turks.
Ali Erbaş announced that he would recite the morning Muslim prayer, known as Namāz, at Sultanahmet Square, which is located between Hagia Sophia and the Sultan Ahmed Mosque.
It is noted that in the context of easing the measures for the COVID-19 pandemic, the Turkish government opens the Muslim mosques on May 29, a date that coincides with the day of the Fall of Constantinople.
The choice of date has sparked scenarios that President Erdogan may announce his decision to convert to the Hagia Sophia Museum (established in 1935) into a Muslim mosque, something the Turkish president has repeatedly promised his followers since 2016.