Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says people shouldn't be deceived by terrorist Brenton Tarrant's manifesto that contained references to Turkey and Hagia Sophia museum.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned on Saturday against getting deceived by terrorist Brenton Tarrant's manifesto, urging people to pray in nearby Blue Mosque instead of seeking opening of Hagia Sophia, a museum, for prayers.
"We don't take action because the despicable [terrorist Brenton Tarrant] said so," Erdogan said, referring to the New Zealand mosque attacker Tarrant's manifesto that contained specific references to Turkey and Hagia Sophia in Istanbul.
"He talked nonsense by saying 'we will kill you if you cross west of the [Bosporous] Strait, we will come to Istanbul and destroy all the mosques and minarets' in his manifesto that he left.... Where is New Zealand and where is Turkey?" he asked.
'Let's not be deceived'
The right-wing terrorist, Tarrant killed at least 50 worshippers on Friday and left dozens more wounded, an attack he also livestreamed.
President Erdogan was speaking at an election rally on Saturday where the crowd, angered by the terrorist's manifesto, chanted "open Hagia Sophia" for prayers.
"It has a political dimension. Let's not be deceived. It's a ruse," he warned.
Hagia Sophia is a relic of the East Roman Empire. It was built three times on the same site until Sultan Mehmed II 'The Conqueror' converted it from a church to a mosque.
It is now a museum, and overlooks many other historic sites, including majestic Blue Mosque, in Sultan Ahmet neighbourhood of Istanbul.
No need 'to fill Hagia Sophia'
Instead, Erdogan urged people to pray at nearby Sultan Ahmet Mosque [or Blue Mosque] or the recently-built Camlica Mosque.
"You're not going to fill nearby Sultan Ahmet mosque and then say let's fill the Hagia Sophia now," he said.
"We know how to take the step and we know the political language of it."
Referring to Turkey's largest Camlica Mosque which was recently opened for prayers, he said, "It is four or five times bigger than Hagia Sophia. Sixty-thousand people can pray at the same time."