News 05 August 2020

“Europe Should Develop a Common Position on Religious Diversity.”

Watch the video (available in Bulgarian) about the recent reopening of Hagia Sophia in Istanbul as a mosque by the Turkish president Erdogan.

Religious Diversity

“Europe should develop a common position on religious diversity”, commented Prof. Anna-Maria Totomanova – RESILIENCE Consortium General Assembly member. She explains the role of the University of Sofia and the RESILIENCE consortium in this ambitious goal. Academic organisations from different European countries, including Western Balkans are creating a research infrastructure for Religious Studies named RESILIENCE. The research infrastructure enables researchers to do more in-depth research on the current processes in Europe and their deep roots in the past.

Hagia Sophia

The example of Hagia Sophia in this regard is brilliant it was converted from a Christian church into a mosque in 1453 by the Ottoman sultan Mehmed II, and in 1934 the government of Mustafa Kemal turned it into a museum, later declared as an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The whole Christian world – not only the Orthodox, but also the Catholic perceives Hagia Sophia as a symbol of Christianity. According to Prof. Totomanova, Erdogan’s actions are more related to domestic policy and a sign to Turkish society, but there is also an additional effect, which could be read as a provocation to Christian Europe.

Serving Stakeholders

The ambition of the research infrastructure is to serve politicians and all stakeholders with analysis, forecasts and information. Asked by the TV host whether European tolerance does not face foreign intolerance, Prof. Totomanova pointed to another topic related to political correctness and the fact that sometimes tolerance and political correctness replace reality and have unintended effects.

In this sense, the European Commission’s support for this research field proves that politicians are on the right track.

– Dobromir Dobrev, University of Sofia