“In addition to their renowned patronage of architecture, which yielded the conversion of the Church of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul into a congregational mosque…”
Obscene. Here is that “renowned patronage of architecture” in action:
The church was still thronged. The Holy Liturgy was ended, and the service of matins was being sung. At the sound of the tumult outside the huge bronze gates of the building were closed. Inside the congregation prayed for the miracle that alone could save them. They prayed in vain. It was not long before the doors were battered down. The worshippers were trapped. A few of the ancient and infirm were killed on the spot; but most of them were tied or chained together. Veils and scarves were torn off the women to serve as ropes. Many of the lovelier maidens and youths and many of the richer-clad nobles were almost torn to death as their captors quarrelled over them. Soon a long procession of ill-assorted little groups of men and women bound tightly together was being dragged to the soldiers’ bivouacs, there to be fought over once again. The priests went on chanting at the altar till they too were taken. But at the last moment, so the faithful believed, a few of them snatched up the holiest vessels and moved to the southern wall of the sanctuary. It opened for them and closed behind them; and there they will remain until the sacred edifice becomes a church once more….
The Sultan himself entered the city in the late afternoon…He insisted that the church should at once be transformed into a mosque. One of his ulema climbed into the pulpit and proclaimed that there was no God but Allah. He himself then mounted on the altar slab and did obeisance to his victorious God.
That’s from The Fall of Constantinople 1453 by Steven Runciman. Runciman’s account is restrained. Roger Crowley’s below is more vivid: “The church was meant to embody heaven on earth, and here were these aliens in turbans and robes, smashing tombs, scattering bones, hacking up icons for their golden frames. Imagine appalling mayhem, screaming wives being ripped from the arms of their husbands, children torn from parents, and then chained and sold into slavery. For the Byzantines, it was the end of the world.”
“Renowned patronage of architecture”!
“Florida Museum Celebrates the Loss of Hagia Sophia,” by Daniel Pipes, National Review, May 29, 2017:
I rubbed my eyes in disbelief seeing a wall plaque at the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens in Jacksonville, Fla., explaining an artifact in the “Ink, Silk, and Gold: Islamic Treasures from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston” exhibit currently showing.
The plaque that caught my eye praises the Ottoman Empire for having turned the Hagia Sophia church into a mosque. Its words:
In addition to their renowned patronage of architecture, which yielded the conversion of the Church of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul into a congregational mosque, Ottoman sultans and elites supported flourishing textile and ceramics industries.
(What does “yielded the conversion” even mean? A search engine finds seven uses of this phrase in the English language, all connected to science.)
Hagia Sophia happens to be one of the oldest, largest, most beautiful, most celebrated, and most important churches of all Christendom. Built in the 530s in Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, it has always been the object of exceptional praise, from ancient times (563 AD: “As you direct your gaze towards the eastern arches, you behold a never-ceasing wonder”) to modern ones (2014: “In this paradigmatic building, beauty, wisdom and light became interwoven through the architectural structure”).
The transformation of the Greek Hagia Sophia Cathedral into the Turkish Ayasofya Mosque did not take place gently. Fergus M. Bordewich describes the brutal shift that took place 564 years ago today:
On May 29, 1453, after a seven-week siege, the Turks launched a final assault. Bursting through the city’s defenses and overwhelming its outnumbered defenders, the invaders poured into the streets, sacking churches and palaces, and cutting down anyone who stood in their way. Terrified citizens flocked to Hagia Sophia, hoping that its sacred precincts would protect them, praying desperately that, as an ancient prophesied, an avenging angel would hurtle down to smite the invaders before they reached the great church.
Instead, the sultan’s janissaries battered through the great wood-and-bronze doors, bloody swords in hand, bringing an end to an empire that had endured for 1,123 years. “The scene must have been horrific, like the Devil entering heaven,” says [Roger Crowley, author of 1453: The Holy War for Constantinople and the Clash of Islam and the West]. “The church was meant to embody heaven on earth, and here were these aliens in turbans and robes, smashing tombs, scattering bones, hacking up icons for their golden frames. Imagine appalling mayhem, screaming wives being ripped from the arms of their husbands, children torn from parents, and then chained and sold into slavery. For the Byzantines, it was the end of the world.” Memory of the catastrophe haunted the Greeks for centuries. Many clung to the legend that the priests who were performing services that day had disappeared into Hagia Sophia’s walls and would someday reappear, restored to life in a reborn Greek empire.
That same afternoon, Constantinople’s new overlord, Sultan Mehmet II, rode triumphantly to the shattered doors of Hagia Sophia. … He declared that it was to be protected and was immediately to become a mosque. Calling for an imam to recite the call to prayer, he strode through the handful of terrified Greeks who had not already been carted off to slavery, offering mercy to some. Mehmet then climbed onto the altar and bowed down to pray.
Recalling this violent and dismal history as I wandered the Cummer, I wondered why a Florida museum would celebrate the vicious transformation of this cathedral into a mosque. Could an Islamist be lurking behind the wall plaque’s perverse praise?
I searched for clues by reviewing the makeup of the “Ink, Silk, and Gold” exhibit’s Advisory and Host committees. Sure enough, the answer lay there in broad daylight, highlighted on the glass entry door.
Parvez Ahmed, an apologist for suicide bombing and president of the country’s most prominent Islamist organization, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (commonly known as CAIR) in 2005–08, apparently sits on the two committees; in addition, his sometime-mosque, the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida, sits on the Advisory Committee….