Turkish President Turns Hagia Sophia Into a Mosque

Turkish President Turns Hagia Sophia Into a Mosque
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordered the Hagia Sophia Museum, one of Istanbul's most famous landmarks, to be converted into a mosque.

He made the declaration hours after a high court cleared the way for change.

A major attraction for tourists, Hagia Sophia has a long and complex history. The architectural wonder was built by the Byzantines as a church in the 6th century and later became a mosque after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453.

In 1934, the cabinet of Turkish leader Mustafa Kemal Ataturk decided that it be converted into a museum. It is widely regarded as a symbol of peaceful religious coexistence.

Friday's court decision rendered the 1934 decision invalid. This gives the Turkish president the authority to restore the museum to its status as a working mosque. The decision stated that the site is listed as a mosque on the title of the property and cannot be changed, Turkey's Anadolu news agency reported.

Erdogan previously indicated that he wanted to make that change. In his decision on Friday, he said that the site would be transferred to the Directorate of Religious Affairs and be open for worship.

In recent years, the Turkish government "allowed reading the Quran on special occasions," Anadolu reported.

Earlier, a presidential spokesman assured that the building would remain open to visitors and no changes would be made to the interior. The vaulted site retains its Christian iconography, and the minaret was added to its time as a mosque.

The possible change in the status of the museum has been widely condemned internationally.

"As a museum, the Hagia Sophia can serve as a place and symbol of encounter, dialogue and peaceful coexistence of people and cultures, mutual understanding and solidarity between Christianity and Islam," spiritual leader Partholomew, The spiritual leader wrote. Of Orthodox Christians.

He warned that the museum is a place where "the East embraces the West", and if it converts, "it will dissolve these two worlds."

United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said this month that Hagia Sophia's conversion is "unrivaled potential, so rare in the modern world, as a much-needed bridge between various traditions and those to serve humanity." Will "Religious Cultures. "

Elizabeth Prodromo, a professor of geopolitics and religion at Tufts University's Fletcher School, said Hagia Sophia's decision was "a tragedy, frankly, though not surprising."

Hagia Sophia, he said, "is a lightning rod for the synthesis of religio-nationalism and has played an important role as a symbol by the Erdogan government."

"This is just one more example of NATO's long pattern of withdrawal from Turkey from its commitments as a member of the Western NATO alliance, and its commitment to the rules associated with democracy," Prodromo said.

Officials warned at a large number of public ceremonies that the ground in front of Hagia Sophia Church, on Friday, was usually crowded with visitors waiting in long lines, following warnings of an outbreak of coronavirus. Visitors entered the building without waiting and left.

A 32-year-old man named Sahib laid his prayer mat and said that he traveled to Hagia Sophia on Friday in the afternoon in hopes of performing Muslim prayers. Speaking before the announcement of the decision, he said: "I hope the Council of State reverses this erroneous decision, so that we can offer our prayers in the church of Saint Sophia." He said he would return next Friday to pray.

On her first visit to Elena, Elena, a Russian, said she is not in favor of turning the museum into a working mosque. "Well, even as a Muslim," he said, "I think it's still a museum."

He said visiting Hagia Sophia was an unexpectedly exciting part of his journey.

"When I was about to enter, I didn't expect to feel so excited," she said. "It was really impressive."

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