The head of Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet), Ali Erbaş, has defended delivering the Friday sermons at Hagia Sophia with a sword in hand, saying that it's a "widespread practice."
"Delivering sermons with a sword exists in our history and traditions and is a widespread practice," Erbaş tweeted on Aug. 10.
Kılıçla hutbe okumak bizim tarihimizde ve geleneğimizde var olan, yaygın bir uygulamadır. pic.twitter.com/jJ0veDW66M— Prof. Dr. Ali Erbaş (@DIBAliErbas) August 10, 2020
Erbaş, whose Islamist statements often draw ire, on July 24 prompted surprise after giving a sermon at Hagia Sophia with a sword in hand, presenting an Ottoman tradition of conquest.
Despite intense criticism, he repeated the move a week later again at Hagia Sophia during Eid al-Adha prayers.
Erbaş on Aug. 10 noted that the first Friday sermon after the Conquest of Istanbul was delivered with a sword.
"It continued that way for 481 years. The fact that the sermon is delivered like is to announce that Hagia Sophia was converted into a mosque and to give a message regarding conquest," he said.
Noting that the tradition has been performed in various mosques across Turkey, Erbaş said, "I'm surprised to see the approaches that criticize it."Turkey's top religious authority head delivers Friday sermon at Hagia Sophia with a sword in hand