Istanbul, Turkey- On Friday, thousands of devotees gathered in Taksim Square in the center of Istanbul to commemorate President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Recep Tayyip Erdogan) as a magnificent and controversial building Inauguration of the new mosque in China.
The opening ceremony fulfilled the long-term ambition of governments to build Muslim places of worship on the square since the 1950s, and is generally regarded as a symbol of the secularism of Turkey’s founding father Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
Due to government construction plans, the anniversary of the large-scale anti-government protests began on May 28, 2013 in the nearby Grid Park.
The screen on the square shows the first prayer in the mosque. The mosque is shrouded in bronze and marble statues depicting Ataturk, while worshippers sit on disposable paper prayer mats.
Although municipal workers distributed masks and disinfectants, there was almost no social distancing among the crowds-even though Turkey has just lifted its strictest COVID-19 lockdown to date.
Erdogan’s arrival was applauded, and he waved to the crowd before walking in.
“We have waited a long time for this mosque,” Mohamed Ali Karahaciolu, 68, told Al Jazeera.
“No one can do it-only Erdogan. He is a special person to me. The view of Taksim Square is very beautiful now-I hope they can build this mosque 50 years ago, “He says.
Erdogan said in a speech that he hopes it “will illuminate our city for centuries like an oil lamp.”
Taksim is the center of life on the European side of Istanbul-it is connected to Istiklal, the main shopping street, and is usually crowded with shoppers, tourists, workers and party people.
During the Ottoman Empire, the area was a settlement of Istanbul’s religious and ethnic minorities. There are several churches nearby, including the largest Greek Orthodox church in the city, but there are few large mosques.
“We don’t have enough mosques nearby, so this is good,” said Canan Kurtoglu, 53, who participated in prayer activities and worked for the subcontractor who built the mosque’s gates.
However, for critics, the 28-meter-wide dome and two towering minarets of the new landmark are faintly visible on the square. This is Erdogan’s effort. Its ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party has been since 2002. Has been in power since 1989 to impose religious and conservatism dominance over the region.
Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish Studies Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said on Twitter, “By patronizing the large symbolic mosque in the city where he was born… Erdogan seems determined to leave an indelible mark on Turkey.”
By patronizing the large symbolic mosque in the city where he was born-there are already 3 “Erdogan” mosques, including the new Taksim Mosque-Erdogan, which overlooks and reshapes Taksim Square in the center of Istanbul Seems determined to leave an indelible mark on Turkey #SultaninAutumn https://t.co/ThppVh9yH7
-Soner Cagaptay (@SonerCagaptay) May 28, 2021
Gates Park protest
Erdogan has promoted the establishment of a mosque in the area since he became the mayor of Istanbul in the 1990s. However, the plan was frustrated by military intervention in 1997 to overthrow the Islamic government of the country and a series of laws and public struggles.
In his speech after the inauguration prayer, Erdogan blamed the failure of the mosque project to be realized early on the Gates protest, calling it “the moment when the terrorists oppose us.”
The Gezi protests were caused by Erdogan’s plan to build a shopping mall similar to the Ottoman military camp on a rare green space in the area, but the harsh response of the police caused it to spread throughout the country for several months.
The construction of the mosque finally started in 2017. According to reports, the new mosque, which can accommodate 2,250 people, also includes an exhibition hall, library, kitchen and parking lot.
This is Erdogan’s third major religious landmark recently established in the city.
The huge Kamlica Mosque overlooking the Asian side of the city opened in March 2019.
The 1,400-year-old Hagia Sophia was originally a church before becoming a mosque in the Ottoman Empire and a museum in the Ataturk period. It was rebuilt into a mosque last year.
On the other side of the square across from the mosque is the Ataturk Cultural Center, a building from the 1960s. Gates protesters hung banners in 2013 but were demolished in 2019.
The building is now replaced by a new Ataturk Cultural Center, which will house an opera house, exhibition halls, cafes and restaurants.
“Erdogan just built this mosque for political reasons,” said Can Aksoy, a 40-year-old actor who grew up and lives in the area.
“He built it right in front of the Cultural Center, just to show his power, because he can.”