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Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan reconverts Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia into a mosque and declares it open to worship

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Turkey — The president of Turkey on Friday formally reconverted Istanbul’s sixth-century Hagia Sophia into a mosque and declared it open for Muslim worship, hours after a high court annulled a 1934 decision that had made the religious landmark a museum.

The decision sparked deep dismay among Orthodox Christians. Originally a cathedral, Hagia Sophia was turned into a mosque after Istanbul’s conquest by the Ottoman Empire but had been a museum for the last 86 years, drawing millions of tourists annually.

There was jubilation outside the terracotta-hued structure with cascading domes and four minarets. Dozens of people awaiting the court’s ruling chanted “Allah is great!” when the news broke.
In the capital of Ankara, legislators stood and applauded as the decision was read in Parliament.

Turkey’s high administrative court threw its weight behind a petition brought by a religious group and annulled the 1934 Cabinet decision that turned the site into a museum. Within hours, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan signed a decree handing over Hagia Sophia to Turkey’s Religious Affairs Presidency.

He posted the decree on his Twitter account, with the words “may it be beneficial.”

Erdogan had spoken in favor of turning the hugely symbolic UNESCO World Heritage site back into a mosque despite widespread international criticism, including from the United States and Orthodox Christian leaders, who had urged Turkey to retain its status as a museum as a symbol of solidarity among faiths and cultures.

The decision threatens to deepen tensions with neighboring Greece, whose culture minister, Lina Mendoni, denounced the move as “an open challenge to the entire civilized world that recognizes the unique value and universality of the monument.”

“Hagia Sophia, located in Istanbul, is a monument to all mankind, regardless of religion,” she said.

Cyprus “strongly condemns Turkey’s actions on Hagia Sophia in its effort to distract domestic opinion and calls on Turkey to respect its international obligations,” tweeted Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides.

Vladimir Dzhabarov, deputy head of the foreign affairs committee in the Russian upper house of parliament, called the action “a mistake.”

“Turning it into a mosque will not do anything for the Muslim world. It does not bring nations together, but on the contrary brings them into collision,” he said.

The debate hits at the heart of Turkey’s religious-secular divide. Nationalist and conservative groups in Turkey have long yearned to hold prayers at Hagia Sophia, which they regard as part of the Muslim Ottoman legacy. Others believe it should remain a museum, as a symbol of Christian and Muslim solidarity.

“It was a structure that brought together both Byzantine and Ottoman histories,” said Zeynep Kizildag, a 27-year-old social worker, who did not support the conversion. “The decision to turn it into a mosque is like erasing 1,000 years of history, in my opinion.”

Garo Paylan, an ethnic Armenian member of Turkey’s Parliament tweeted that it was “a sad day for Christians (and) for all who believe in a pluralist Turkey.”

“The decision to convert Hagia Sophia into a mosque will make life more difficult for Christians here and for Muslims in Europe,” he wrote. “Hagia Sophia was a symbol of our rich history. Its dome was big enough for all.”

The group that brought the case to court had contested the legality of the 1934 decision by the modern Turkish republic’s secular government ministers, arguing the building was the personal property of Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II, who conquered Istanbul in 1453.

“I was not surprised at all that the court weighed to sanction Erdogan’s moves because these days Erdogan gets from Turkish courts what Erdogan wants,” said Soner Cagaptay, of the Washington Institute.

“Erdogan wants to use Hagia Sophia’s conversion into a mosque to rally his right-wing base,” said Cagaptay, the author of “Erdogan’s Empire.” “But I don’t think this strategy will work. I think that short of economic growth, nothing will restore Erdogan’s popularity.”

The Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, considered the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, warned last month that the building’s conversion into a mosque “will turn millions of Christians across the world against Islam.”

Patriarch Kirill, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, called for “prudence” and the preservation of the “current neutral status” for the Hagia Sophia, which he said was one of Christianity’s “devoutly venerated symbols.”

“Russia is a country with the majority of the population professing Orthodoxy, and so, what may happen to Hagia Sophia will inflict great pain on the Russian people,” he said in a statement.

U.S. State Secretary Mike Pompeo said last month the landmark should remain a museum to serve as bridge between faiths and cultures. His comments sparked a rebuke from Turkey’s Foreign Ministry, which said Hagia Sophia was a domestic issue of Turkish national sovereignty.

Erdogan, a devout Muslim, has frequently used the Hagia Sophia issue to drum up support for his Islamic-rooted party.

Some Islamic prayers have been held in the museum in recent years. In a major symbolic move, Erdogan recited the opening verse of the Quran there in 2018.

Built under Byzantine Emperor Justinian, Hagia Sophia was the main seat of the Eastern Orthodox church for centuries, where emperors were crowned amid ornate marble and mosaic decorations.

The minarets were added later and the building was turned into an imperial mosque following the 1453 Ottoman conquest of Constantinople — the city that is now called Istanbul.

The building opened its doors as a museum in 1935, a year after the Council of Ministers’ decision.

Mosaics depicting Jesus, Mary and Christian saints that were plastered over in line with Islamic rules were uncovered through arduous restoration work for the museum. Hagia Sophia was the most popular museum in Turkey last year, drawing more than 3.7 million visitors.

Before the decision, UNESCO, the United Nations’ cultural body, had called on Turkish authorities to engage in dialogue before taking any decision that might impact the site’s “universal value.”

UNESCO said it must be notified of any change to the status of Hagia Sophia, adding that changes may have to be reviewed by the World Heritage Committee.

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A woman has been arrested in Sweden for locking her son in an apartment for 28 years

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Stockholm: A mother in Sweden has been arrested on suspicion of locking her son inside their apartment for 28 years, leaving him undernourished and with almost no teeth, police and media reports said Tuesday.

“The mother is suspected of illegal deprivation of liberty and causing bodily harm,” Stockholm police spokesman Ola Osterling told.

He said the man had been “locked up for a very long time” in the apartment in a southern Stockholm suburb, but would not comment on reports in dailies news that he had been held for 28 years.

The reports said the mother had pulled her son out of school when he was 12 and kept him locked inside the apartment since then.

An unnamed relative found the now 41-year-old man on Sunday after the mother, in her 70s, had been taken to hospital, news reported.

The man had infected sores on his legs, could barely walk, had almost no teeth and limited speech ability, the reports said.

Osterling would not comment on those details, saying only: “The man is in hospital. His injuries are not life-threatening.”

The mother has denied the crimes, the Swedish Prosecution Authority said.

‘Urine, dirt and dust’

Doctors at the hospital had alerted police to the case.

Police tape was stretched across the apartment’s door on Tuesday, and crime scene technicians were seen leaving the scene around midday, an AFP photographer said.

The apartment is located in a non-descript grey and yellow low-rise building in the working class suburb of Handen in Haninge municipality.

The unidentified relative who found the man said the apartment looked like it had not been cleaned in years.

“There was urine, dirt and dust. It smelled rotten,” she told Expressen, adding that she had to wade through piles of junk to get through the hallways.

“No one could have cleaned that home for many years.”

“I’m in shock, brokenhearted, but at the same time relieved. I’ve been waiting for this day for 20 years because I figured out that she was totally controlling his life, but I never imagined the extent of it,” she said.

“I knew he was there and that he must be scared because his mother was his only sense of security and now she was gone,” she added.

There was no immediate explanation for the mother’s alleged actions.

“She stole his life from him and manipulated the people around her in order to keep her secret,” the relative said.

“I’m just thankful that he got help and is going to survive.”

One unidentified neighbour, who lived in the same building, told Aftonbladet that she ran into the man at a nearby grocery store a few months ago.

“I know who you are, you’re my neighbour,” the man had told her, recognising her after having seen her through the window, she said.

‘How could no one have noticed?’

But most others in the neighbourhood told local media they hadn’t seen the man for years.

“They almost never went outside, never even opened the windows for fresh air. It’s been holed up,” another woman from the building told Aftonbladet.

Many neighbours wondered why neither social services, the school nor any other authority ever checked in on the boy over the years.

“And when we’ve had renovations done in the building, how can no one have noticed? Workmen have been here,” one woman told Aftonbladet.

Another woman said she occasionally ran into the mother.

“We talked about small stuff, like you do. Sometimes I asked about the boy, and she just said he was fine, she never really talked about him,” she said.

She however added that she found it odd that their window was never open, and the same candlestick had been in the window for 30 years.

“But what can you do? How do you know what’s going on behind closed doors? It’s all so awful, you can’t believe it’s true,” she said.

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യേശുവിനെ തള്ളിപറയാഞ്ഞതിനു പാസ്റ്ററെയും രണ്ടു കുഞ്ഞുങ്ങളെയും ഉഗാണ്ടയിൽ സുവിശേഷവിരോധികൾ കൊലപ്പെടുത്തി

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കിബുക്കു: രാജ്യത്ത് നടന്ന ദാരുണമായ സംഭവം പാസ്റ്ററുടെയും രണ്ട് ക്രിസ്ത്യൻ കുട്ടികളുടെയും മരണത്തിലേക്ക് നയിച്ചു
പാസ്റ്ററുടെ ഒപ്പമുണ്ടായിരുന്ന ഇമ്മാനുവൽ ഹമുസ പറയുന്നതിങ്ങനെ: “നവംബർ 23 ന് അവരെ പാസ്റ്റരെ നേരിട്ടു. തന്റെ ക്രിസ്തീയ വിശ്വാസം ഉപേക്ഷിക്കണമെന്ന് അവർ ആവശ്യപ്പെട്ടു. പാസ്റ്റർ വിസമ്മതിച്ചതിനെത്തുടർന്ന്, സഹോദര-സഹോദരിമാരും പിതൃ അമ്മാവനും കിബുക്കു ജില്ലയിലെ വീടിന് പുറത്ത് പാസ്റ്റരെ ആക്രമിച്ചതായി മോണിംഗ് സ്റ്റാർ ന്യൂസ് റിപ്പോർട്ട് ചെയ്യുന്നു.

“ഞങ്ങളുടെ കുടുംബത്തിന് അപമാനമായ ഈ ക്രിസ്തീയ വിശ്വാസം നിങ്ങൾ ഉപേക്ഷിക്കണം” എന്ന് പറഞ്ഞ് അഞ്ച് കുടുംബാംഗങ്ങൾ അദ്ദേഹത്തെ തല്ലുകയും കുത്തുകയും ചെയ്തു, ഹമുസ വിശദീകരിച്ചു.

“അവരുടെ ആവശ്യത്തിന് വഴങ്ങാൻ ഞാൻ വിസമ്മതിച്ചു, അവർ എന്നോട് യുദ്ധം ചെയ്യാൻ തുടങ്ങി,” ഹമുസ പറഞ്ഞു. “മറ്റ് ആക്രമണകാരികൾ എന്റെ കുട്ടിയുടെ കഴുത്തിൽ കാലുകുത്തി നിൽക്കുമ്പോൾ ശ്വാസം മുട്ടി ദാരുണാവസ്ഥയിലായി.”
വൈദ്യസഹായം ലഭിക്കുന്നതിന് മുമ്പ് ഹമുസയുടെ ആറുവയസ്സുള്ള മകൻ മരിച്ചു. ഭാവിയിൽ കുറ്റവാളികളുടെ ആക്രമണത്തെ ഭയന്ന് ഭയാനകമായ സംഭവം പോലീസിനെ അറിയിച്ചിട്ടില്ല.

പാസ്റ്റർ വിൽസൺ നിവമന്യയും 12 വയസ്സുള്ള മകനും ഒരു ക്രിസ്ത്യൻ വിശ്വാസിയും നവംബർ 21 തീവ്രവാദികൾ അവരുടെ അടുത്തെത്തിയപ്പോൾ ഡെമോക്രാറ്റിക് റിപ്പബ്ലിക്ക് ഓഫ് കോംഗോയ്ക്ക് മതപരമായ രചനകൾ നൽകി,മൂർച്ചയേറിയ വസ്തുക്കളും സോമാലിയൻ വാളും ഉപയോഗിച്ച് തീവ്രവാദികൾ ആയുധധാരികളാണെന്ന് തൊഴിലാളി പറഞ്ഞു.

“ നമ്മുടെ മതത്തെ അവഹേളിച്ചതിന് ഈ മനുഷ്യൻ മരിക്കണം ”എന്ന് തൊഴിലാളി ഒരു മോർണിംഗ് സ്റ്റാർ ന്യൂസിനോട് പറഞ്ഞു. ആക്രമണകാരികൾ മൂർച്ചയേറിയ വസ്തുക്കളാൽ അടിച്ചുകൊണ്ടാണ് തുടങ്ങിയത്, തുടർന്ന് വാൾ ഉപയോഗിച്ച് കുട്ടിയെ വയറ്റിൽ കുത്തുകയായിരുന്നു. പാസ്റ്ററും ഞാനും ആക്രമണകാരികളുമായി പ്രതിരോധിക്കാൻ ശ്രമിക്കുന്നതിനിടയിലാണ് അദ്ദേഹം മരിച്ചത്” അദ്ദേഹം കൂട്ടിച്ചേർത്തു
അക്രമികൾ ഓടി രക്ഷപ്പെട്ടു, പാസ്റ്റർ നിവമന്യയെ കിസോറോയിലെ ഒരു മെഡിക്കൽ സൗകര്യത്തിലേക്ക് അതിവേഗം കൊണ്ടുപോയി. തലയ്ക്ക് പരിക്കേറ്റ അദ്ദേഹം നവംബർ 24 ന് മരിച്ചു.

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യേശുവിനെ തള്ളിപറയാഞ്ഞതിനു പാസ്റ്ററെയും രണ്ടു കുഞ്ഞുങ്ങളെയും ഉഗാണ്ടയിൽ സുവിശേഷവിരോധികൾ കൊലപ്പെടുത്തി

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