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Non-obvious effects of the first prayer in Hagia Sophia

In Istanbul today will happen what some feared and others were looking forward to. In Hagia Sophia, from July 10, lost their Museum status, held a prayer — the first for many decades. Now looks like a monument that is, with its unique Byzantine mosaics and the threat created by Turkish President Recep Erdogan precedent — in the material RIA Novosti.

This place in the Hagia Sophia, perhaps the most favorite Istanbul's guides. His story has acquired numerous conjectures.

"Look at his feet. See dents in the marble on either side of the entrance? There was a guard of the Byzantine Emperor. When he solemnly entered the temple in the middle of the service, they greeted him with tramp of feet. Over the years, the floor was formed of deepening," explains one of the tourists guides. Almost all of these narrators are working here illegally: come to long queues at the ticket office at the Cathedral and offer a "free pass" and a tour.

At the entrance stops another group. Her local guide announces its version of the origin of the dents: "the guards Stood there for hours waiting for the monarch and shifted from foot to foot. For a thousand years, they pushed the stone floor."

What was really unknown. And professional historians, and local residents disagree. As for the question of the status of Hagia Sophia at all.

Polls show that most Turks welcomed the decision by Erdogan to make the Hagia Sophia into a mosque, but the voices against the country sound louder. Condemn the decision not only known cultural figures, such as Nobel laureate writer Orhan Pamuk, but authoritative Islamic scholars.

"The era of conquest in the past, so it is wrong to develop this political rhetoric. Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror, turning Hagia Sophia into a mosque after the conquest of Constantinople in 1453, had intended thus to protect the building from thieves. Then it was the right decision, but to act today is wrong," — said in an interview with radio Sputnik Turkey Istanbul theologian Cemil Kilic.

He does not understand how the Museum's status may threaten the sovereignty of Turkey, as asserting the supporters of Erdogan. Because the state already owns the building.

"The needs of the worshipers here at anything. Pursued a symbolic purpose. This step associated with Imperial aspirations. And the whole discussion around the Hagia Sophia — a reflection of the inferiority complex caused by centuries-old feeling of backwardness from the West. And large-scale celebration of the anniversary of the conquest of Istanbul also points to this complex. The capture of the Byzantine capital was not celebrated either by the Sultan Mehmed, no other Ottoman rulers. This tradition emerged in the Republican period, when they were in power the Democratic party. Actually Turks are a generous people with a broad heart. But such a position does not elevate the Turkish nation, on the contrary, unfortunately, casts a shadow on her dobroserdova," says the theologian.

Indeed, the controversy surrounding the Hagia Sophia is mostly ideological. The tourists, as stated by the Turkish authorities, will be able to get in the building. Only now they don't have to buy a ticket and stand in long queues at the Museum ticket office.

But "shadow" the guides will not tell about those dents in the marble. These traces of history, apparently, close carpets. Their Islamic tradition needs to be paved with all the mosque.

The first prayer rugs covered the floors half the Hagia Sophia — for almost two thousand square meters. The entire surface is expected to close after a restoration lasting several years, cost estimates a week ago has doubled.

"The carpet is decorated with Ottoman motifs of the seventeenth century, fits well in the historic interior", — assured journalists Ali Ozkul, head of the weaving company that manufactured the carpets.

But the floors and carpets — not the main thing that bothers the public around the world. The Holy Sophia, the huge Byzantine mosaics, created in the VIII-XIV centuries. When the conquerors of Constantinople in 1453 was converted Orthodox Cathedral into a mosque, they hid Christian graphics under a thick layer of plaster. And in the 30-ies of XX century, they suddenly found byzantinologist.

Deciding to turn the Museum into a mosque, the Turkish authorities have assured that mosaic is not touched. But how then to be with one of the most important requirements of Islam — the prohibition on images of living creatures in mosques? Spoken version up to radical: that the mosaic will be removed and will create a separate exposure.

But the Office for religious Affairs (Diyanet) of Turkey, whose conduct crossed the monument, have found a compromise. First suggested dimming the mosaic only during the prayers. But then this idea have refused, arguing that the sudden change of lighting will damage the panels. In the end, decided to close the icons with a special fabric five times a day for about 15 minutes.

Moreover, according to the statement of the Turkish authorities, from the praying will hide only those tiles that are situated directly before their eyes, that is towards Mecca. We are talking about a few panels with the virgin (including the famous image in the apse), the Savior and the Archangel Gabriel.

However, despite the assurances of the Turkish authorities, the public were not satisfied. Agog first of all, the Museum community, but, in fact, in its decision, Erdogan turned existing for decades the rules governing the world's cultural monuments.

In 1985 UNESCO included the Hagia Sofia in the world heritage list. On the one hand, it contributed to the popularization of the monument. The Museum was the most visited in Turkey and every year has brought huge revenue the city and state Treasury.

On the other hand, the special status imposes additional obligations on facility owners. For example, any restoration work should be coordinated with international organization, what can we say about the fateful decisions that are similar to the accepted 10 July.

UNESCO said: change the status of the Turkish authorities was not coordinated. And thereby created a very dangerous precedent. Now to protect a particular cultural monument, nominally owned by all of humanity, the whims of individual politicians will be much more difficult.

"What's interesting is legally Erdogan did everything correctly — in fact, he had not exceeded the powers. After the capture of Constantinople in 1453, Hagia Sophia was converted into a Waqf, the property transferred to the special Fund for religious purposes. Therefore, neither Britain nor Prussia, nor Russia demanded from the Ottoman Sultan to change the status of a monument. After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire came to power Pro-European-minded Republicans. And Mustafa Kemal Ataturk for political reasons, turned Sofia into a Museum. But the Waqf remained a Waqf, its status is inalienable," explains orientalist Mikhail Yakushev.

Despite the secular nature of the Turkish legislation, according to Yakushev, based on Islamic legal norms. It is to them and appealed on 10 July, the highest judicial body in Turkey — the state Council. The solution, which is then confirmed by the President Erdogan, he took on the basis of the claim of the representatives of the Waqf.