On 10 July 2020, by a decree of the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the basilica of Hagia Sophia – the central monument of the Byzantine Empire and the entire Orthodox world – was turned from a museum into a mosque. The conversion attracted worldwide attention and the leaders of the US, the EU and Russia, as well as most international institutions, appealed to Erdoğan not to go ahead with the plan. However, all the warnings were ignored and the first festive Muslim service was held on 24 July, with the country’s leadership in attendance. In this talk, various aspects of the conversion of Hagia Sophia, including political, religious, cultural and art-historical issues of this most significant event, are to be discussed.
Alexei Lidov is Head of Department at the Institute for World Culture at Moscow State University. In 2019 he was a Eurasia in Global Dialogue-Guest at the IWM.
Comments by Clemena Antonova, Research Director, Eurasia in Global Dialogue
Moderated by Ayşe Çağlar, IWM Permanent Fellow