Hagia Sophia Mosque is an insult to republicanism


Agia Sophia (Ansicht der Nordseite), in Alt-christliche Baudenkmale von Constantinopel vom V. bis XII. Jahrhundert (1854) by Wilhelm Salzenberg

Any religion or denomination can become a state religion, but only a religion which takes seriously the plurality, distinctness and cooperation of persons, can be a civil religion.


If we are to believe the intriguing conjecture put forward by Anthony Kaldellis, Anthemios and Isidoros were the pagan architects who probably designed a covertly heathen “temple of light” and, at the same time, the greatest –perhaps– Christian church. Despite their many differences, in the longue durée, Greco-Roman polytheism and Trinitarian Christianity proved equally suitable for republican institutions; on the contrary, “strict” monotheism (and by that, needless to say, I do not mean all Islamic schools and branches) has always remained the crutch of despotism.


Under the present circumstances, turning Hagia Sophia into a mosque is more than a blow on liberal secularism; it is an insult to democratic republicanism.


PS. On iconoclasm: “Iconic representation did provide, even if only in the very smallest corners of the imagination, a way to participate in the sacred and imitate the divine. The aesthetic representation, in other words, served as the vehicle for some kind of political representation. The iconoclastic monarch had to put an end to even this small opportunity of power and salvation. God must be completely separate from the multitude such that the Basileus is the only link between them, the only means of salvation” (Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Multitude. War and democracy in the age of Empire, Penguin, New York, 2004, p. 325).