Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is “a thug” who is “beating the Islamic drum again” and aiming to “dismantle the Ataturk legacy,” according to Sky News Australia host Alan Jones.
“[Erdogan] has assaulted the country’s democratic institutions,” Jones said during a July 20 broadcast, later adding that the Turkish president “Has boastingly thrown out the secularism and democratic institutions… and replaced them with his radical Islamist agenda.”
The news pundit’s statements come almost two weeks after Hagia Sophia, a UNESCO World Heritage site, was reconverted by Erdogan to a mosque after the national leader received legal permission from a high court.
After 86 years of operating as a museum, Hagia Sophia is scheduled to host its first Muslim prayers on Friday, July 24.
The Greek Orthodox Church in America designated July 24 as a national day of mourning and has received support from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which called on its 70 million faithful to join in mourning.
Built in 537 by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I, Hagia Sophia once served as the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarch but was converted into a mosque after Constantinople fell to the Ottoman Empire on May 29, 1453.
Turkey’s first president, Kemal Ataturk, secularized Hagia Sophia and opened it as a museum in 1934. In 1985, UNESCO designated the site — as a component of the Historic Areas of Istanbul — a World Heritage site.
The building was Turkey’s most popular museum in 2019, drawing more than 3.7 million visitors.
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