AKP deputy chairman points to Jerusalem next after Hagia Sophia

Deputy chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) Numan Kurtulmuş said Turkey’s next responsibility should be to realise the legacy of Ottoman Sultan Selim the Grim for Jerusalem during a conference he attended, Yeni Şafak newspaper reported on Monday.

“Now we have in front of us Al Quds Sharif, legacy of Caliph Umar, Saladin Ayyubid, and Sultan Selim the Grim, and it must remain in one corner of our minds,” Kurtulmuş said. “It is a responsibility for our nation to fulfil the legacy of ‘La Ilahe Illallah, Ibrahim Halilullah’ written on top of the Hebron Gate, as a dream, as a goal in the coming days.”

The quote Kurtulmuş mentioned roughly translates to “There is no God but Allah, Abraham is his friend,” and it was inscribed on the Hebron Gate in Jerusalem on the orders of Ottoman Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent to emphasise the city being home to the three Abrahamic religions.

The conversion of Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia back into a mosque was “a dream come true for our generation who said break the chains,” Kurtulmuş said.

Hagia Sophia was originally built as a Byzantine Orthodox cathedral and converted to a mosque following the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul in 1453. The UNESCO world heritage site was turned into a museum in 1934, on the orders of modern Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

Hagia Sophia being open for Islamic worship again has “ended the process of severing Turkey’s ties with its history,” Kurtulmuş continued. “The summary of the last two centuries has been should Turkey stray away from its roots, or protect its existence and lunge forward.”