Turkey’s top imam gives peace message to the world with sword in hand
The President of Turkey’s Diyanet (state religious authority) Ali Erbas stepped up the stairs of the Hagia Sophia mosque on Friday with an Ottoman sword in his hand, in an act of determination against the westernized groups of Turkish society which earlier said the act failed to comply with a secular state.
Erbas also shared a video on Twitter showing him with the sword.
When Erbas first delivered a sermon with a sword in hand after the first Friday prayer when Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque in July 2020, he came under heavy criticism for threatening secularism and laicism in Turkey. But he defended himself saying giving sermons with swords in hand was an Ottomon tradition in cities which were conquered by war.
Last year in May, during the first Eid al Fitr prayer in Hagia Sophia, he showed up again with his sword, sparking reactions from inside and outside Turkey.
At the end of the prayer, although he continued to hold the sword in his hand, Erbas gave a message of peace to the world in English language:
“I would like to address all of humanity, from this place, from Ayasofya. All people, we are leaving another Gregorian year behind, an event that occurs anywhere in the world. (...) All people, we are all children of the prophet Adam (...) We are all either brothers or sisters (..) Let there be no wars,” he said.