Editor: Azra Ceylan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on July 10 announced that Hagia Sophia will be opened to Muslim worship after the Council of State – the highest administrative court in the country  – ruled that the building’s conversion to a museum by modern Turkey’s founding statesman was illegal. 

The first prayers at the iconic sixth-century structure will be held on July 24. 

“With this court ruling, and with the measures we took in line with the decision, Hagia Sophia became a mosque again, after 86 years, in the way Fatih the conqueror of Istanbul had wanted it to be,” Erdoğan said.

In this week’s episode, Duvar English’s editor-in-chief Cansu Çamlıbel and pollster Can Selçuki discuss the underlying factors behind President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s decision to convert Hagia Sophia back into a mosque. They analyze the possible reasons for Erdoğan to risk burning bridges with the West as well as the significance of the timing of the announcement.

Çamlıbel and Selçuki seek an answer to the key question: whether this move indicates Erdoğan is poised to call for a snap election before the end of this year.

This podcast was prepared with support from Heinrich Böll Stiftung’s Turkey Representation.