Photo Credit: MEMRI
Jordanian Professor Ahmad Nofal, MEMRI

(JNS/MEMRI) Jordanian professor Ahmad Nofal defended Turkey’s recent decision to convert Istanbul’s famous Hagia Sophia into a mosque, saying it had been a mosque for 500 years before “Dönmeh Jew” Mustafa Kemal Atatürk turned it into a museum.

In the July 17 episode of his weekly show on the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood’s Yarmouk TV, Nofal said that “the collaborator” Atatürk was a “Dönmeh Jew from Greece. He wasn’t even a Turk. He was a Greek who lived in the Jewish Quarter in Istanbul.”

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Nofar then went on to state: “If we liberate Palestine tomorrow, will we leave the Jewish synagogues intact? No! We will uproot them, along with their people, and throw them into the sea. Allah willing, it will be soon.”

The Hagia Sophia served as a Christian church from 537 C.E. until 1453, when it was converted to a mosque after the Ottoman Turks conquered Constantinople (now Istanbul).

Atatürk, the founding father of the Turkish Republic, signed a Cabinet decision in 1934 designating the Hagia Sophia as a museum. In 1985 it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The monument is among Turkey’s most popular tourist destinations.

The Dönmeh were Jewish converts to Islam in the Ottoman Empire who retained their beliefs in secret.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan signed a decree converting the site into a mosque on July 9, an hour after Turkey’s Council of State voided the 1934 Cabinet decision.

According to the Turkish daily Yeni Şafak, Erdoğan said during the ceremony announcing the move that the “resurrection of Hagia Sophia was the harbinger of the liberation of Masjid al-Aqsa [Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque] and footsteps of Muslims will to leave hard days behind.”

However, there were some Muslim voices raised in opposition to the Turkish announcement.

Professor Saad el-Din Helaly of Egypt’s Al-Azhar University told MBC Masr TV on July 13 that the announcement by the “Muslim Brotherhood government of Turkey” was “an escalation against human civilization,” and harmed Muslims and Islam. This, he said, was the nature of the Muslim Brotherhood and political Islam, which “will put their hands on people’s possessions from China to America” if they rise to power.

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