The 571th anniversary of the dour fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks, which marked the end of what later historians would refer to as the Byzantine Empire, provided the latest opportunity for Recep Tayyip Erdogan to launch into a chauvinist and Islamist-tinged address to supporters.

Among others, the more-than-two-decades leader of Turkey charged that “Istanbul (as Constantinople was officially renamed in the early 20th century) is Muslim, and with the Grace of God will remain so forever.”

He also pointed to his administration’s controversial reconversion in 2020 of the Hagia Sophia, the greatest of all Christian basilicas in the East, from a museum back into a mosque.
“It (Hagia Sophia) was liberated from its chains…” he said, adding that the sacking of Constantinople in 1453 by a huge Ottoman army and their vassal allies is a “source of inspiration for achieving the goal of the Century of Turkey.” The latter is a campaign slogan used in last year’s election, which resulted in the re-election of Erdogan and his AKP party.

“We will not allow Istanbul to be separated from the spirit of conquest of the Mehmet the Conqueror, even though today they still do not accept this,” he said in reference to the Ottoman sultan who armies overran and sacked the Bosporus metropolis.

As such, he opined that Istanbul is the “legacy of the conqueror, our ancestors, our holy army and the fallen…”