Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet) head Ali Erbaş delivered the Friday sermon at Hagia Sophia with a sword in hand, presenting an Ottoman tradition of conquest.
“The longing of our nation, which has turned into a heartbreak, is coming to an end today,” Erbaş said from the pulpit on July 24 while holding the sword.
Experts have said that Ottoman sultans were delivering sermons with swords after each conquest.
Two green flags were also hung on the pulpit of the mosque as a symbol of conquest.
“Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror endowed and entrusted this outstanding place of worship as the apple of his eye to believers on condition that it should remain a mosque until the last day,” Erbaş said.
“Any property that is endowed is inviolable in our belief and burns whoever touches it; the charter of the endower is indispensable and whoever infringes upon it is cursed,” he added.
When asked about the issue after the prayers, Erbaş said that “It’s a tradition to hold a sword at mosques that are symbols of conquest.”
“We will continue this tradition,” he told reporters.