The mayor of Constantinople has made his thoughts about the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque clear, and it appears to not be in support of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
“In the name of God, is this our issue?” questioned said Constantinople Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, adding that “the Hagia Sophia Mosque has been our heritage since the conquest of the city.”
“What if we go even further? It is a legacy of 1,500 years. A historic monument. A fortune that belongs to the whole world. It is a colossal project. A symbolic work,” added the Pontus born mayor.
İmamoğlu estimates that the country’s tourism has reached the bottom and explained that thousands of people have been left unemployed due to the coronavirus.
Under these difficult financial circumstances, he wondered why such a discussion about the status of Hagia Sophia in Turkey is taking place at this time.
“Tourism has fallen by 97%. In Istanbul all hotels are closed. Tourism has bottomed out. Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their jobs. In such an environment, why open such a discussion? Is this our issue now?” the mayor of the city said, explaining that he is very clear in his opinion, despite the criticism he has received when he spoke at the Delphi Forum in Greece.
“It simply came to our notice then. Yesterday [Thursday] at the financial forum of Delphi, which has been organised for years in Athens, an important financial forum, I was invited by the mayor of Athens and participated through a teleconference. They asked questions mainly about the pandemic and the cities, and in the meantime the moderator of the discussion asked me (about Hagia Sophia) and I said this : “Turkey’s agenda does not need this issue. This is not our issue. We have other issues,” İmamoğlu concluded.
İmamoğlu who won the municipality election in Constantinople last year was born in Platanos (Πλάτανος, Turkish: Akçaabat) in Pontus, and for this reason is often accused of being Greek, especially since videos of him dancing traditional Pontic Greek dances in Greece emerged.