Sermons with swords part of Turkey’s tradition, head of Diyanet says

From the English langiage edition of Turkish pro-government newspaper the Daily Sabah. I suppose the attitude of conquest should come as no surprise. 

Turkey’s religious chief on Friday explained that swords were traditionally held during religious sermons delivered at weekly Muslim prayers as a symbol of conquest.

After leading the Friday prayer at the Hagia Sophia Mosque – the first prayer following its reversion to being a place of Muslim worship – Ali Erbas told reporters: “Khutbahs (Friday sermons) have been delivered with a sword, without interruption, for 481 years. If Allah permits, we will resume this tradition from now on.”

“This is a tradition in mosques that are the symbol of conquests,” explained Erbas, who heads Turkey’s Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet), adding that the Hagia Sophia Mosque is one of those symbols of conquest.

“I hope many people pray in this mosque … learn their religion here. We’ll try to restore the Hagia Sophia Madrassa to function as it did during its magnificent years with Quran lessons in every single corner of the mosque. . . Mosques also function as schools. Just as our prophet was able to raise his companions in mosques, we are trying to raise our youth and children in mosques,” Erbas added.

The Hagia Sophia served as a church for 916 years until the conquest of Istanbul,