Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. (Creative Commons)

The Sultan Who Trades in Religion

Al-Okaz, Saudi Arabia, July 11

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan tweeted last week that converting the Hagia Sophia Museum into a mosque is a prelude to the liberation of Al-Aqsa Mosque. However, Erdoğan’s tweet in Arabic dramatically differed from the one he posted in English, in which he explained that a section of the museum would be converted into a mosque, where anyone, including non-Muslim foreigners, would be welcomed. He then added: “With its new status, Hagia Sophia, the shared heritage of humanity, will continue to embrace everyone in a much more sincere and original way.” The stark difference between the contents of the two tweets is yet another reminder of Erdoğan’s shameful deceit and cheap attempt to manipulate the emotions of millions of Muslims around the world. The goal of the first tweet was to draw an unsubstantiated link between Hagia Sophia and Al-Aqsa Mosque and position Turkey as the supposed “liberator” of both. The goal of the second tweet was to emphasize that the site would be open to all non-Muslims. This paradoxical stance is nothing more than a desperate effort on behalf of Erdoğan to save his continually declining popularity both at home and abroad. To do so, he resorts to the mockery of Islam. –Khalid Tashkndi (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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