Egypt’s top Islamic body has caused uproar by describing the Ottoman seizure of Istanbul as an “occupation” instead of a conquest, in a politically charged statement attacking Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“The Hagia Sophia was built as a church during the Byzantine period in AD537, and it remained for 916 years until the Ottomans occupied Istanbul in 1453, turning the building into a mosque,” Egypt’s Dar al-Ifta, the central authority for issuing religious rulings led by the Grand Mufti Shawki Allam, said on Sunday.
On Monday night, however, the Islamic body released another statement in which it seemed to backtrack on labelling the historical event as occupation, and instead glorified it as “a great Islamic conquest”.
Sunday’s statement accused Erdogan of politicizing the religion with slogans and using Hagia Sophia’s conversion into a mosque as an electoral weapon for his “soldiers” that would bring the topic to public attention whenever needed.
Read more: middle east eye