Turkey and Greece have been in conflict for the last several decades. However, mainly due to a series of anti-Turkish moves made by the Greek state and the transgressed explanations made by Greek officials, tensions between the two countries have risen dramatically in recent years. As a reaction to Turkey’s improvement of its defense industry and its effective interventions in regional crises, Greece has been trying to exploit every opportunity to produce anti-Turkish policies.
Hagia Sophia’s conversion into a mosque sparked a debate over President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s political agenda. Some observers believe that the administration has a to-do list yet to be completed. That claim boils down to the idea of Turkey’s gradual Islamization. Western media outlets, too, amplified that message by speculating that Erdoğan undid Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s legacy and revived the Ottoman Empire to bring back the caliphate. Others, out of excitement or sorrow over Hagia Sophia’s reopening, jumped on that bandwagon.
Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque after the conquest of Istanbul in 1453 by Sultan Mehmed II as a symbol of the Ottoman conquest of the city. It served as a mosque until 1934, when it was converted to a museum. Many other steps were taken during the first two decades of the Republic of Turkey, which solidified the rupture of the new regime from its past and were considered a necessity for the recognition of the new regime by the international community. Not only Muslims but also non-Muslims were deprived of many religious rights. For instance, many properties belonging to non-Muslim charitable foundations were appropriated by the government.
The Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque's reopening, an embodiment of Turkey’s free will, could not have been possible without Erdoğan’s leadership and the Turkish people’s confidence in him. Hagia Sophia’s "resurrection" has become a symbol of Turkey’s efforts to become a prominent player in the international arena. A missing piece of our national identity has thus been put back in place. No politician would ever dare to reverse this decision as long as Turkey remains a democracy.