Turkish President inaugurates a mosque in Istanbul’s Taksim Square. An opening that is a controversial issue in this country. The inauguration of the mosque coincided with the anniversary of widespread anti-government protests in 2013 in Istanbul’s Gezi Park. At that time, the construction of this mosque in Taksim Square caused many protests.
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) May 28, 2021
Thousands of worshipers gathered in Istanbul’s Taksim Square yesterday to inaugurate a controversial new mosque imposed by Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The inauguration of this mosque fulfils the long-standing dream of various governments since the 1950s to build a place of worship in the most famous square of Istanbul.
This square is considered a symbol of the secularism of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (Atatürk), the father and founder of modern Turkey. The inauguration of the mosque coincided with the 2013 anniversary of the anti-government protests in Istanbul’s Gezi Park district on May 28, 2013. That year, protesters staged a sit-in to demolish Gazi Park in Istanbul’s Taksim district to build a site. Turkish security forces fired tear gas and water cannons at protesters, and a large number of protesters were detained.
Screens installed in Taksim Square depict the first worshipers of the mosque in front of a bronze and marble statue of Ataturk (Ataturk) and the worshipers sat in front of it on the disposable wicker mats for prayer and supplication. While municipal workers gave worshipers masks and disinfectants, there was little social distance between participants. Meanwhile, Turkey has recently been released from the most severe quarantine and national holiday in Corona.
Erdogan’s long-standing dream
Erdogan waved to the people as he entered the mosque, and the people cheered him on.
“Mehmet Ali Karahajiwaqlu, 68, told Al Jazeera: We have been waiting for this mosque for a long time. He added: No one was able to do that except Erdogan. He is a special man to me. The view of Taksim Square (now) is beautiful. I wish they built this mosque 50 years ago.
Erdogan also said in a speech that he was hopeful, The city will shine like a beacon in the centuries to come. It is the focal point of life on the European side of Istanbul and connects to the main street of Esteghlal, which is usually a hangout for shoppers, tourists, workers and cafes.
This area was inhabited by religious and ethnic minorities of Istanbul during the Ottoman period and there are several churches nearby. There are several large “Greek Orthodox” churches and a small number of large mosques in the area.
“Kanan Kurtoglu, 53, who attended the prayers and is one of the contractors for the construction of the new mosque in Taksim Square, said:” They did a good job. We did not have many mosques here.
Different opinions about this opening
For critics, a 28-meter-wide dome with two towering minarets is one of Erdogan’s efforts as chairman of the Development Justice Party to impose a religious and conservative stance that has been in power since 2002.
“Soner Kagaptai,” director of the Turkish Research Program at the Middle East Policy Institute in Washington, wrote on Twitter: Erdogan is determined to make a mark in Turkey by supporting large and iconic mosques in his hometown.
The BBC wrote: After Friday prayers at the mosque, Erdogan said: Taksim Mosque has now found an important place among the symbols of Istanbul, and God willing, it will preserve it. He also told the crowd that the construction of the mosque was a victory for the protesters, who opposed the religious takeover of Taksim Square, but that no one could stop it.
Erdogan, who was once the mayor of Istanbul, told worshipers that there was not even a room to pray and that they had to pray on a newspaper on the floor. The plan to build the mosque in Istanbul’s Gezi Park on Taksim Square in 2013 led to widespread protests in Istanbul and around the world.