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How the Hagia Sophia Decision Impacts Turkey, Minorities and Now, Syria

Elizabeth Prodromou speaks with Religion Unplugged about Turkey's decision to build a small replica of the Hagia Sophia.

The Turkish government’s conversion of the Hagia Sophia from a museum into a mosque has drawn sharp criticism, celebration, and now pledges to rebuild the church in Syria. But among experts on Turkey the news was far from surprising. The decision is part of a long-term agenda of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Islamist parties to restore national pride in its Ottoman past.

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Dr. Elizabeth Prodromou of Tufts University Fletcher School of Diplomacy and expert in religious freedom and religious minorities in MENA emphasized that smaller churches built on the model of the Hagia Sophia have been built the world over and even the Ottoman took it as a model to build their most stunning mosques. “The announcement about the possible construction of a smaller version in Hama fits into the long historical trajectory of Hagia Sophia’s greatness as a structural masterpiece,” she told Religion Unplugged. “However, in terms of sheer size and scope, there has been no other ‘relocation’” like the original, she said.

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