But now Turkey is going in the opposite direction. President President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party has called for a new Islamic constitution. In May, some of his followers demanded that the Hagia Sophia be made into a mosque again.
The coup attempt this month against Erdogan has not only allowed him to consolidate his power, but has energized his Muslim base.
“This coup has empowered President Erdogan more than ever. He was already the most powerful leader of Turkey since Ataturk, and Erdogan can easily use this to establish more control over Turkish society,” Mustafa Akyol, political analyst and author, said.
I wrote about Erdogan’s Islamicist tendencies last year and they seem to be moving forward. The second transformation of the Hagia Sophia into a mosque (the first time it was done under the Ottomans) is a big deal, but for every day Turkish life there are bigger ones.
Under Ottoman rule, the emperor was also the Caliph, the “Commander of the Faithful.” ISIS claims to have restored same, which lapsed with the end of the Ottoman Empire. Perhaps Erdogan is bucking for Caliph, which would unravel Turkey’s current place in the world alliance system (especially NATO and Turkey’s idea of getting into the EU.)
Since we’re talking about Ottoman history, I invite my readers to browse through my series last year on the subject, as follows:
- The Hem of His Garment
- Why all the Movie Eunuchs are Black, and Some Thoughts on Slavery
- The Banner Named Barack
- Islamic States, Then and Now
- Facing Reality on the Armenians
- Not Much for Victory, but the Eats Were Good
- Sick Man of Europe, Sick Man of North America
- Christians, Keep Your Promises
- Seated at the Right Hand
- An Officer and a Gentleman
- They’d Rather Die Christian