President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has slammed those deeming Istanbul's conquest by the Ottoman Empire "an occupation," a week after Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy called it as such.
During the opening ceremony of a pandemic hospital in Istanbul, Erdoğan mentioned the celebrations that marked the 567th anniversary of the conquest, saying that those who call it "an occupation" are ignorant.
"In the recent days, some ignorant people are attempting to describe it as occupation. Our ancestors saw the conquest as winning hearts rather than just conquering soil. They don't know that," Erdoğan said on May 31
His remarks came a week after Ersoy called it an occupation during a TV interview. Shortly after the interview, he said that it was "a slip of the tongue."
On May 29, 1453, Sultan Mehmet II conquered Istanbul, then called Constantinople, from where the Byzantines had ruled the Eastern Roman Empire for more than 1,000 years.
The conquest transformed the city, once the heart of the Byzantine realm, into the capital of the new Ottoman Empire.
The Turkish government on May 29 celebrated the 567th anniversary with an Islamic prayer at the 6th-century Hagia Sophia, a UNESCO world heritage site.
The Conquest Sura, a section of the Quran, was recited as part of a program held by the Culture and Tourism Ministry.Islamic prayers held at Istanbul's Hagia Sophia to mark 567th anniversary of Ottoman conquest