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Turkey rejects calls to resurrect Islamic caliphate

The Hagia Sophia's opening as a mosque prompted the call by a pro-government magazine [Getty]

Date of publication: 27 July, 2020

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A spokesman for the ruling party said that Turkey would remain a secular republic after a pro-government magazine issued a call to resurrect the caliphate.
Turkey's ruling party has rejected a call by a pro-government magazine to resurrect the Islamic caliphate, following the re-opening of Istanbul's Hagia Sophia as a mosque.

A spokesman for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Monday reassured skeptics that Turkey would remain a secular republic after the magazine caused a stir on social media by calling for the renewal of the caliphate.

"The Turkish Republic is a democratic and secular state based on the rule of law," spokesman Omer Celik said in a tweet. "Our republic is an umbrella for us all based on these qualities."

"It is wrong to trigger polarisation about Turkey's political system... The unhealthy debate and polarisation that emerged on social media yesteday about our political system is not on Turkey's agenda," Celik wrote.

"The Turkish Republic will stand forever. With the prayer and support of our nation, and under the leadership of our president, we are walking towards so-called unattainable goals for our country and humanity. Our republic will continue to shine," he added.

The AKP official's tweets came the morning after Gercek Hayat, the weekly magazine of government-linked Yeni Safak newspaper, appeared to call on Ankara to re-launch the caliphate, which was abolished shortly after the fall of the Ottoman Empire.

"Now the Hagia Sophia and Turkey are free; get ready for the caliphate," the cover of Gercek Hayat's 27 July issue reads.

"If not now, then when? If not you, then who?" the cover asks, seemingly referring to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The caliphate is an Islamic state led by a caliph who is considered to be a successor of the Prophet Mohamad. The last caliphate, led by the Ottomans, was disolved in 1924 during the early years of the Turkish Republic.

The statement was accompanied by translations in English and Arabic.

Gercek Hayat and Yeni Safak are owned by the Albayrak Media Group, which has close ties to the Turkish government and President Erdogan.

On Friday, Turkey re-opened the Hagia Sophia is a mosque more than 80 years after its conversion into a museum by the Turkish Republic's founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

Built as a cathedral under the Christian Byzantine Empire, the Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque after the 1453 conquest of Istanbul by the Ottomans.

"This is Hagia Sophia breaking away from its captivity chains. It was the greatest dream of our youth," Erdogan said earlier this month. "It was the yearning of our people and it has been accomplished."


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