Ali Erbaş, the top imam and president of the controversial Directorate of Religious Affairs of Turkey, used an Ottoman sword to climb up the staircase of the pulpit of Hagia Sophia.
His move was not accidental. As the Turkish journalist Abdullah Bozkurt points out, this is a highly symbolic movement that fulfils Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s neo-Ottoman aspirations.
“The longing of our nation that had become a deep wound is over,” said Ali Erbaş in his sermon, “the doors of the Hagia Sophia Mosque as in other mosques of the country will be open to all the servants of Allah.” He even warned that “those who touch the fundamental goods and values are cursed.”
Symbolism matters: #Turkey gov't top Imam uses Ottoman sword ⚔️to climb up the staircase of Minbar (pulpit) before delivering a sermon for Friday prayer in #HagiaSophia where entire Turkish leadership is present.
— Abdullah Bozkurt (@abdbozkurt) July 24, 2020