Turquía

El 27 de julio de 2020, tres días después de que por decisión oficial del régimen islamista turco se devolviera el recinto de la basílica de Santa Sofía al culto musulmán abandonado en 1934 para transformar la entonces mezquita en museo, la rueda de prensa conjunta ofrecida en Estambul por la Ministra española de Asuntos Exteriores y Cooperación, Arancha González Laya, y su homólogo turco, Mevlut Cavusoglu, servía de esclarecedor marco para mostrar dos formas de ver y de actuar en lo que a la relación entre religión y política respecta.

La ministra española mostraba una ambiciosa agenda en la que incluía, por su actualidad, la cuestión de Hagia Sofía en clave progresista propia de la Alianza de Civilizaciones que José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero lanzara hace quince años al mundo como ocurrente fórmula para, según él y los defensores de la misma, atajar cuando no resolver no pocos problemas de seguridad que afectaban y siguen afectando al mundo.…  Seguir leyendo »

¿Turquía es la nueva Rusia? En las capitales europeas esta pregunta surge cada vez con más frecuencia en tanto el presidente turco, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, adopta una política exterior más agresiva. Además de utilizar la migración para amenazar y manipular a la Unión Europea, Erdoğan también ha venido desplegando poder militar para expandir la esfera de influencia de Turquía en toda la región.

Desde el fin de la Guerra Fría, los europeos han visto la seguridad regional a través de una lente occidental unipolar. Mientras la OTAN garantizaba seguridad militar, la UE –con su reglamento de 80.000 páginas para todo desde los derechos LGBTQ hasta las ordenanzas de ruido de las cortadoras de césped- ofrecía orden legal.…  Seguir leyendo »

Turkey’s parliament on July 29 passed legislation effectively banning Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube — unless they comply with government censorship. Under the new rules, expected to take effect on Oct. 1, every major social media platform will need to appoint a local representative in Turkey and respond quickly to court orders to block or remove content. Companies that fail to designate a representative could face hefty fines and see their bandwidth cut by up to 90 percent.

The new law intensifies President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s push to control the media. Other governments have restricted Internet freedom amid the pandemic, whether to combat harmful misinformation, or clamp down on their critics.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ainsi en a décidé le calife d’Ankara : le 24 juillet, Sainte-Sophie-la-Basilique est (re)devenue Ayasofya-la-Mosquée ! Convertie une première fois, après la prise de Constantinople par les Ottomans en 1453, la basilique avait été transformée en musée en 1934 par Mustafa Kemal, dans le but de «l’offrir à l’humanité». Belle et délicate attention, mais c’était dans une autre Turquie, musulmane, oui, mais laïque.

Le 24 mars 2019, en pleine campagne pour des élections locales, Recep Tayyip Erdogan promit de redonner à ce patrimoine mondial de l’Unesco le statut qu’il avait du temps de l’âge d’or de l’empire ottoman. Prier Allah sous l’égide de sainte Sophie, blasphème ou abomination ?…  Seguir leyendo »

La reconversión de Santa Sofía de Constantinopla en mezquita por parte del presidente turco ha despertado en Europa una exasperación que considero desproporcionada. Los gestos de Erdogan están dirigidos, ante todo, a halagar a su electorado islamista. Como a cualquier líder en decadencia, enfrentado a la pandemia, la recesión económica, los kurdos y los demócratas, todo lo que le queda a Erdogan son los símbolos de una gloria pasada, la suya y la de su país. Me viene a la mente la comparación con Donald Trump y Putin: sus fracasos concretos los llevan a buscar la salvación en batallas abstractas. Volvamos a Santa Sofía, que fue basílica cristiana, luego mezquita otomana, después museo y ahora se ha convertido en un lugar abierto al público, donde será posible organizar cultos musulmanes.…  Seguir leyendo »

Source: Nationally representative survey of 2,500 Turkish adults, March 2019. Figure: Tarek Masoud and Aytug Sasmaz

This month, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reconsecrated the Hagia Sophia — a UNESCO world heritage site and museum — as a house of Muslim worship. To Erdogan’s many opponents, this looks like the latest move in a long-running attempt to undo Turkish secularism. The president’s supporters dismiss this interpretation, portraying the whole thing as a purely domestic, even mundane, legal matter. But Erdogan himself has hinted at something much more expansive. In a recent speech, he declared that the “resurrection of Hagia Sophia” represents “the footsteps of the will of Muslims across the world to come out of the interregnum,” and the “reignition of the fire of hope of not just Muslims, but … of all the oppressed, wronged, downtrodden and exploited.”…  Seguir leyendo »

El pasado 10 de julio, el presidente turco Recep Tayyip Erdogan firmó el retorno al culto musulmán de la basílica de Santa Sofía. La ceremonia signataria se inscribió dentro de un contexto de enorme carga simbólica, pues el anuncio de la recobrada condición del templo se llevó a cabo a las 20.53 hora local, dígitos que remiten, siquiera parcialmente, al año en que Constantinopla ingresó en el Dar al-Islam, territorio de los hombres coranizados que hoy celebran la recuperación de tan singular lugar de culto, a la espera de que ocurra lo propio en el Occidente andalusí, concretamente en Córdoba. Construida en el siglo IV, fue después de que en 1453 el sultán Mehmet Fatih se hiciera con la ciudad cuando la imponente cúpula levantada por Antemio de Tralles e Isidoro de Mileto acogió el rezo hacia un Dios de impronta aristotélica y rostro inexistente.…  Seguir leyendo »

Una de las noticias inquietantes de los días pasados ha sido la transformación de la antigua Basílica de Santa Sofía en Estambul de museo en mezquita, decretada por el presidente de Turquía, Erdogan, con el apoyo de su Consejo de Estado.

Santa Sofía es uno de los edificios más impresionantes del planeta. Y no sólo porque, según se dice, cambió la historia de la arquitectura: el modo como concebimos el espacio. Lo es, sobre todo, porque presenta a quien lo visita, de manera inmediata, milenios de historia de la humanidad, de cruce y mezcla de culturas. Es lo mismo que sucede en la Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba -y no me traiciona mi pasión de cordobés-.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hagia Sophia in Istanbul on Friday. Credit Chris McGrath/Getty Images

The recent decision by the Turkish government to reconvert the majestic Hagia Sophia, which was once the world’s greatest cathedral, from a museum back to a mosque has been bad news for Christians around the world. They include Pope Francis, who said he was “pained” by the move, and the spiritual leader of Eastern Christianity, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who said he was “saddened and shaken.” When contrasted with the joy of Turkey’s conservative Muslims, all this may seem like a new episode in an old story: Islam vs. Christianity.

But some Muslims, including myself, are not fully comfortable with this historic step, and for a good reason: forced conversion of shrines, which has occurred too many times in human history in all directions, can be questioned even from a purely Islamic point of view.…  Seguir leyendo »

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is famous for saying, “If we lose Istanbul, we lose Turkey.” Last year, he lost the city’s municipal elections. Today, he is trying to reverse his sliding popularity by backing a religious fundamentalism that threatens Turkey’s minorities, the country’s secular character and Istanbul’s historic role as a tolerant metropolis where Muslim, Christian and Jewish faiths coexisted for centuries.

On Friday, Erdogan’s shortsighted, cynical campaign struck at the very heart of world culture and Istanbul’s essential character. At his instigation, Turkey’s highest administrative court issued a scandalously dangerous and bigoted decision: Hagia Sophia, a UNESCO world heritage site in Istanbul and a global symbol of world history and multicultural representation, should convert from a museum back to a mosque.…  Seguir leyendo »

El máximo órgano judicial de Turquía ha respaldado una demanda fundamentalista, alentada por el presidente Recep Tayyip Erdogan, para que Santa Sofía, situada en Estambul y patrimonio mundial de la Unesco, deje de ser museo y se convierta en mezquita. Es una muestra de fanatismo y una decisión peligrosa. Amenaza el acceso libre a un edificio espléndido. Puede dañar de forma irreparable los mosaicos que lo adornan. Representa el fin simbólico del papel histórico de Estambul como metrópolis tolerante en la que convivieron las religiones musulmana, cristiana y judía durante siglos. Es además un acto de limpieza cultural, un proceso que están realizando los déspotas de todo el mundo.…  Seguir leyendo »

El segundo conquistador

El camino para precisar el concepto de genocidio se inicia con la ponencia que Raphael Lemkin envía al Congreso penal de Madrid en 1933. Lemkin define por un lado el delito de “barbarie”, para los actos de exterminio de una colectividad étnica, confesional o social, y el de “vandalismo”, cuando se trata de las obras científicas, o de las artes y las letras, con las cuales una colectividad contribuye al “tesoro de la humanidad entera”. “En consecuencia, la destrucción de una obra de arte de cualquier nación debe ser considerada como un acto de vandalismo dirigido contra la cultura mundial”. El nacionalsocialismo y el yihadismo ofrecieron sobrados ejemplos.…  Seguir leyendo »

A 19th-century illustration of the interior of the Hagia Sophia, before it became a museum in 1935. Credit Mansell/The LIFE Picture Collection, via Getty Images

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey on Friday issued a decree ordering the Hagia Sophia, a majestic 65,000-square-foot stone structure from the sixth century in Istanbul, to be opened for Muslim prayers. The same day, a top Turkish court had revoked the 1934 decree by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish republic, which had turned it into a museum.

The Hagia Sophia was built as a cathedral and converted into a mosque, and then a museum. It has for centuries been the object of fierce civilizational rivalry between the Ottoman and Orthodox worlds.

The reconversion of the Hagia Sophia into a mosque was an old dream of Turkey’s Islamists.…  Seguir leyendo »

Turkish police officers wearing face masks, with the Byzantine-era monument of Hagia Sophia, now a museum, in the background, patrol at Sultanahmet Square following the coronavirus outbreak in Istanbul on June 5. (Murad Sezer/Reuters)

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople lowered his voice in exasperation. “What can I say as a Christian clergyman and the Greek patriarch in Istanbul? Instead of uniting, a 1,500-year-old heritage is dividing us. I am saddened and shaken.”

The 80-year-old spiritual leader of 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide was referring to the Turkish government’s plans to convert Hagia Sophia, a 6th-century Byzantine cathedral and one of the most precious architectural wonders of the world, into a mosque. For centuries, the terra-cotta-colored building served as the largest church in the Christian world. When Ottomans conquered Istanbul in 1453, they carefully covered the mosaics and turned it into a mosque.…  Seguir leyendo »

Una niña con mascarilla para protegerse de la covid-19 en el campo de refugiados de Moria, en Grecia.Elias Marcou / REUTERS

Los efectos de la covid-19 se han dejado sentir de forma inmediata en la frontera greco-turca. El miedo a la pandemia ha permitido justificar lo que hasta ahora parecía injustificable: del cierre de facto de los campos de refugiados a la retirada de las ONG de ayuda humanitaria. Incluso se ha vuelto a hablar de concentrar a los refugiados en islas desiertas al estilo de Australia. También como efecto de la covid-19 se han acallado las voces más críticas, ya sea porque el confinamiento en tiempos de confinamiento es más fácil de aceptar o por la suspensión en la práctica del derecho a manifestación cuando lo que impera son medidas de distanciamiento social.…  Seguir leyendo »

Friends and supporters of defendants line up to enter the courtroom at the Silivri Prison and Courthouse complex in Silivri near Istanbul on June 24, 2019. (Huseyin Aldemir/Reuters)

Turkey has become the country with the fastest-rising number of coronavirus cases, with nearly 50,000 cases and nearly 1,000 deaths since the first case was diagnosed on March 10. But rather than addressing these worrisome trends, Turkey’s parliament is busy debating a law to release 90,000 criminals from prison — while keeping political prisoners locked up.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has hit multiple birds with one stone by bringing up this bill in a time of crisis. He is redirecting attention from his government’s unsuccessful battle against the novel coronavirus and would, at least partially, mitigate the significant risk that the virus could pose for prison populations by reducing the number of people behind bars.…  Seguir leyendo »

In Turkey, a video of a truck driver went viral this week, as he voiced the feelings of millions of working-class Turkish citizens too poor to observe the government’s stay-home advice.

“Now you are telling me to self-quarantine at home. Man, how can I?” he asked. “I don’t have a pension. Am not a state employee. Am not rich. I am a worker, a truck driver. If I don’t work, I have no bread. I cannot pay the rent, the electricity or water bill. That’s worse than dying. Before you ask us to stay home … stop making a fool of yourself.…  Seguir leyendo »

Istiklal Street in Istanbul, one of the most visited avenues in Turkey, is almost deserted Thursday over concerns about the spread of the coronavirus. (Tolga Bozoglu/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

Over the past two weeks, Turkey has been witnessing a lethal tug of war between reason and belief — one that shows us again how dangerous politicized religion can be.

Turkish health-care professionals and scientists, led by the Turkish Medical Association, have been advocating fact-based policy responses to the coronavirus pandemic. But they face a powerful opponent in the country’s religious establishment. The government’s enormously influential Directorate of Religious Affairs, an agency that is supposed to regulate the role of Islam, has become one of the key institutions in the fight against covid-19 — and not always for the better.

It was clear from early on that the biggest threat would come from outside Turkey’s borders — and especially from those making their Islamic pilgrimages to Mecca.…  Seguir leyendo »

Migrants wait to board a ferry in the port of Mytilene, on the island of Lesbos, Greece, on March 20. (Vangelis Papantonis/AP)

In the midst of Europe’s coronavirus problem, a new border crisis has flared up. On Feb. 29, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared Turkey would open its European borders. Thousands of migrants from Syria and Afghanistan soon gathered near the Greek border and along the Turkish coast.

What has provoked the current migration crisis and what will happen now?

Buses from Istanbul transported Syrian and Afghan migrants to the no man’s land between Greece and Turkey — but Greek border guards violently repelled them with tear gas and stun grenades. On March 2, 22-year-old Aleppo-born Mohamed El-Arab died after being hit by a rubber bullet.…  Seguir leyendo »

On the night of 27-28 February, Turkey lifted the strict controls it has enforced at its sea and land borders with Greece since March 2016, prompting thousands of migrants to head for the frontier in order to attempt passage into Europe. Ankara’s decision came just an hour after news broke that at least 34 Turkish soldiers had been killed in Idlib, Syria’s last rebel-held bastion. It was the highest death toll the Turkish military had suffered in a single attack in the last two decades, and it exacerbated fears that intensified combat in Idlib would push nearly one million more Syrians into Turkey to join the four million refugees the country has been generously hosting.…  Seguir leyendo »